What is time to hire? (With definition and advice)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you run an organisation or individual department, having a series of metrics is beneficial for improving performance. This provides a greater degree of insight into sales, productivity and the time it takes to hire a new member of staff. Understanding the metrics surrounding the latter helps you improve the efficiency of an organisation's hiring practices. In this article, we discuss what time to hire is, explain why it's important and provide some tips for improving this concept at work.

What is time to hire?

Time to hire refers to the amount of time an organisation takes to complete the hiring process. Also known as hiring time, it refers to the length of time between a candidate applying for a job and accepting a job offer. A low hiring time indicates the efficiency of an organisation's hiring processes and demonstrates whether there's potential for reducing costs through better hiring practices. This contrasts slightly with time to fill, which refers to the number of days taken to find and hire a new candidate.

The organisations that use hiring time as a metric usually have a large workforce to keep track of. Smaller organisations with fewer employees have less of a need for hiring time, as they regard each individual hire as a unique situation. In contrast, large organisations often hire for similar positions that experience relatively high turnover. In fast food restaurants, for example, most positions and applicants are usually quite similar across multiple branches.

Related: 15 types of recruiting metrics (plus descriptions)

Why is hiring time important?

There are several reasons why hiring time is an important metric, including:

Improves recruitment efficiency

The first benefit of using hiring time as a metric is that it provides a comprehensive assessment of the efficiency of an organisation's hiring practices. As a general rule, the less time an organisation spends on hiring a staff member, the less it spends on the hiring process and the more efficient the hire is. By examining recruitment efficiency, the organisation finds potential areas for shortening the recruitment process. Having employees in place sooner ensures that the organisation works more effectively and generates profits.

Related: Effective vs. efficient: definitions, differences and tips

Compares different departments

Understanding hiring time provides insight into the performance of individual departments in an organisation. Looking across departments and seeing one part of the organisation with a significantly higher hiring time shows inefficiency and potential for speeding up hiring in that area. By comparing different parts of the organisation, management copies the more efficient parts and transfers the most effective methods to benefit every department.

Reduces cost-per-hire

The more time employees spend on tasks such as hiring members of staff, the higher their wages for any given period. Examining hiring time and finding opportunities to increase efficiency ensures that organisations spend less money on their hiring practices. This means that there's more money available for other options, such as reinvesting in the business and putting more resources towards training the new staff members and ensuring a higher standard of work from them as soon as possible.

Related: The cost of hiring employees (plus tips to save money)

How to improve hiring time

See some steps for improving hiring time in an organisation below:

1. Track the recruitment funnel

The first step in improving an organisation's hiring time is effectively tracking the recruitment funnel. The recruitment funnel refers to the available candidates for a role and the way they move through the process in several clear steps. Some of the steps in a recruitment funnel include:

  • Collating: At this stage, the organisation collates a list of talent with potential for joining the organisation.

  • Filtering: The organisation then filters out the candidates without the necessary skills.

  • Application: The candidates apply for a position after the organisation posts and advertises it.

  • Assessment: The organisation puts candidates through an assessment process, including job interviews.

  • Selection: The organisation selects a candidate to fill the role.

By tracking each candidate in the application process over time, organisations develop a stronger understanding of the available talent pool. This process includes tracking those that fall out of the funnel at the filtering and assessment stages. A presently unsuitable candidate doesn't necessarily stay unsuitable for the position. By tracking the progress of potential applicants, their skill sets and their current employment statuses, organisations build a comprehensive database of ideal candidates for any positions, allowing them to fill these roles more quickly.

Related: How to use funnel questions (with definition and tips)

2. Set timing targets

When improving hiring time, aim to set clear targets. Ideally, these targets refer to the amount of time each department spends on hiring new staff members for each position. Set out these targets concisely by stating the deadline for hiring a new staff member as three working weeks or another timeframe that suits the organisation's needs. Consider the targets carefully when setting hiring goals. Taking time when hiring a new member of staff is beneficial, providing recruiters with more time to assess candidates.

When creating targets for recruitment, consider each position individually on its own merits. Different roles have different requirements and necessitate different levels of attention to detail in the hiring process. For example, more senior positions require more research, as that position's decisions have a greater effect on the direction of the organisation. Provide wider time limits for positions with more responsibilities so recruitment staff have time to complete due diligence checks and verify the qualifications of strong candidates.

Related: Guide: how to create a timeline (with tips and an example)

3. Shortlist thoroughly

In the hiring process, focus on intensive shortlisting. When saving time is the organisation's goal, a smaller selection of candidates reaching the later stages of the process is ideal. This means there's less time spent interviewing, assessing and deciding upon the right staff member for the position. Therefore, creating a shorter list is a quick method of reducing the time an organisation takes when hiring new members of staff.

Take care when adjusting your shortlisting processes. All of the potential employees on a shortlist have their own strengths. In the event that a candidate has a strong set of skills and abilities, don't eliminate them to simply reach a firm quota. Being flexible with the number of candidates you consider means you increase your chances of securing more capable staff members consistently.

Related: How to shortlist interview candidates in recruitment

4. Create better documentation

When reducing the hiring time in an organisation, focus on creating better documentation. These documents set out a clear process for departments when hiring new members of staff, depending on the needs of the organisation. Some of these documents include templates for job descriptions, processes for shortlisting and guidelines on the timelines for hiring new members of staff. Create cohesive documentation that applies to all parts of an organisation, as this reduces inefficiency and increases cohesion.

When creating these documents, take input from current employees. Different parts of an organisation work in different ways, and learning from all of these groups provides the most efficient overall strategy. After writing the documents, circulate them amongst senior staff for edits. Having a thorough proofreading process ensures that all of the information you provide is as accurate as possible and conveys its meaning clearly.

Related: How to become a document management specialist (with skills)

5. Consider other metrics

Hiring time is an important metric for any organisation, but there are benefits to occasionally focusing on alternative metrics. For example, focusing on training time means that employees start working effectively as soon as possible. Similarly, focusing on productivity means that while hiring takes longer, staff members are of a higher quality and far more productive. Balance hiring time with other metrics, so the organisation makes the most of all hiring opportunities.

Using a specific role for this purpose is ideal. A staff member with a specific focus on employment and reaching hiring targets ensures that others focus on their own work and reach the necessary outcomes. By separating responsibilities cohesively, organisations ensure they complete all tasks while building a stronger workforce.

Explore more articles