October 18, 2018
Hiring 24 July 2017
Time to Fill - Is it Fair?
Tracy Tedesco
time to fill

Talent acquisition is moving from a function of acting as a company ambassador to a functional area focused on managing the front end of the People Operations, using data and analytics.  Many Recruiters, used to operating with little oversight and data driven reviews of their recruiting KPIs and efficiencies, are feeling the pressure.  I’ve had experienced Recruiters say it feels like Big Brother is watching their every move and metric. Guess what?  They are.  Reviewing recruiting efficiencies and talent pipeline choke points are now the norm, not the exception. 


Are recruiting metrics like Time to Fill actually fair? Do they actually tell the narrative accurately enough to provide insights into how to fix failure points in the recruiting and pre-boarding process? Isn’t that the whole goal of using recruiting metrics? To gain insights on areas for opportunity? Places to make changes. Areas to focus. Process enhancements. All implemented to get qualified candidates hired faster. 


The impact of the qualified talent shortage is compelling leadership in all industries to make major changes and not “leave up to HR.” Or PeopleOps or Talent or whatever the group is called.  They can’t run their business. They literally built business models based on the availability of external talent at a certain wage and salary rate and all of it is wrong. That’s right. Wrong. Leaders can’t wrap their heads around the fact that their staff is paying 50% of their take-home pay in rent in many large cities. Every day, the people making compensation decisions are not fully understanding the financial realities of housing costs in most of our major cities.

So employees keep quitting for a dollar more an hour, driving turnover up and there’s no one out there at the wage or salary price point they have budgeted for the role. And leaders look at that trusty old metric Time to Fill and demand that it needs to go down. 


I get that they are trying to get insight from data and analytics. The problem is that this metric is not necessarily the most informative and obscures true insight into the multiple drivers of long Time to Fill. It’s an imposter metric, hiding the true reasons that are extending the hiring process. Instead of providing clarity, Time to Fill confuses decision makers.  


The goal of using recruiting analytics is to get a deeper understanding and Time to Fill doesn’t really deliver. 


When I’m asked, “What is driving our long Time to Fill?”  I answer by breaking it down into two areas.


  1. Candidate Withdrawal Disposition Codes


Create a report that tracks the exact reasons qualified candidates are bailing. The codes should cover compensation, brand reputation, benefits, commute, PTO accrual – anything that drives great candidates to reject your organization.  Add in offer decline rate because every time a candidate declines an offer, it’s a new search and drives Time to Fill up. Finally, track offers that were accepted and rescinded.  Some industries have a much high incidence of new hires no-shows and it’s important to track this separately.


  1. Deep Dive Time To Fill 


It’s essential to break down Time to Fill into a more refined analysis of the recruiting process:


Time to Submitted to Hiring Manager

Time to Interview

Time to Offer

Time to Preboard

Here’s my advice. When speaking about Time to Fill, break it down into its component pieces. Don’t look at it alone. Don’t trust Time to Fill. Do not go into meetings without understanding where the recruiting process is hitting choke points. Places where movement stops, progression slows and decision making stalls. It usually is at the transition points and junctures that require a commitment from either the Hiring Manager or the candidate. Places where stuff gets real.


Remember the Trifecta of Recruiting Efficiency:

First - Time to Interview
Then - Time to Offer
Finally - Offer Decline rate


A high offer decline ratio drives high Time to Fill. Focus on driving the offer acceptance ratio up dramatically.

That’s going to tell you the true backstory. Like a detective, you are looking for clues. This Recruiting Efficiency Trifecta will tell you the key uncomfortable truths and what really needs to be fixed if you combine the metric with the candidate disposition codes to track the key drivers to Offer Decline Rate. 



Tracy Tedesco is a Talent Acquisition leader with extensive experience across corporate Talent Acquisition, Executive Search and Recruitment and Selection Systems Consulting. Tracy has spent the last 20 years working in a wide variety of roles across the Talent and People Operations function. She loves pairing qualified candidates with great employers, proving both parties with the proper fit. Tracy is a Master Trainer in Behavioral Interviewing with expert knowledge of building predictive, reliable and legally defensible interviewing and selection systems that enhance the candidate experience.