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Reducing time to hire: How to hire employees quickly & efficiently


Getting the right talent onboard is the first step to enabling company success. 

But with so many vacant positions and job-hopping on the rise,  talent acquisition teams have to search harder and faster to find the right people to avoid disruptions at work.

If you’re already working at 100%—or if you just want to be more efficient—streamlining the recruitment process is a great way to increase your output.

And one of the most important steps is to carefully track recruitment metrics. This will enable your team to assess the quality of your hiring and identify bottlenecks. And that will dramatically improve your ability to find the right people at the right time. 

But which metrics?

A LinkedIn study discovered that HR teams that track recruitment metrics are two times more likely to find better talent faster. Important metrics to track are:

  • Time to hire

  • Quality of hire

  • Cost per hire

Chief among these is time to hire. Why?

For starters, 57% of job seekers lose interest in a job if the hiring process is too long. So optimizing this metric should be a top concern. Otherwise, quality candidates could be slipping through your fingers.

What is time to hire?

Time to hire is the total number of days it takes a company to hire a candidate. This duration starts when the application is received and spans all stages of recruitment.

By capturing the entire hiring process in one number, time to hire helps to identify inefficiencies and unnecessary delays.

Difference between time to hire and time to fill

With so many varying recruitment metrics used across organizations, time to hire and time to fill are sometimes thought to be the same thing. But they are not. 

Time to hire measures how long a company takes to move a candidate through their hiring funnel. This assesses the efficiency of your selection process. 

Time to fill, on the other hand, measures how long it takes a company to fill a particular role. 

In addition to the time it takes for a candidate to get through your hiring funnel, it also accounts for the time it takes to approve the job description, advertise the job, get it across the target audience, and generate a candidate pool. 

This metric helps assess the efficiency of your complete hiring process and also enables you to plan your hiring needs in advance.

Note: Time to fill may be calculated differently at different companies (when the job vacancy is created or when the job is posted, for instance) but it is always greater than time to hire.

Why measuring time to hire is important

Reducing time to hire is a top priority for growing businesses.

This is because longer hiring processes take a toll on the entire company as they have a top-to-bottom effect. Here’s how: 

  1. They increase cost-per-hire, putting a massive strain on the company’s budget. HR takes the biggest share of a company’s resources as it is, so don’t make it worse!

  2. Top talent slips through your fingers, as companies with faster hiring processes beat you to the punch by extending an offer sooner. This is why it’s important to know the average time to hire for your industry.

  3. Longer hiring cycles also lead to an unsatisfactory candidate experience, which could mar your company’s reputation. Word spreads fast and reviews on resources like Glassdoor will discourage future talent from applying at your company. 

  4. Current employees have to take on extra work until the vacancies are filled. This impacts the productivity of their own work.

  5. Organizational goals are delayed or not delivered, hindering overall success and growth.

These five factors make it imperative for companies to streamline the duration of their hiring cycles. 

How to speed up your hiring process while hiring the best

Now that you understand why measuring time to hire is important, your next step is to optimize the hiring processes.

Your starting point should be the following:

  • Track how long each individual process in the hiring funnel is taking.

  • Check the average time to hire by industry and country. This will help you set a benchmark for your team so you can set clear objectives and decide on key performance indicators. 

Once that’s done, employ the following strategies to achieve your objectives.

1. Identify your hiring needs

The first step to speeding up your hiring and candidate selection process is getting a clear idea of the roles you want to fill, including the skills and competencies required from the would-be employee.

Specifically, look up information on the following:

  • Job description

  • Job keywords

  • Objectives of the role

  • Required core skills

  • Salaries

  • Industry trends

2. Use applicant tracking software

Handling large candidate pools and filling in multiple positions is a tedious process for any recruitment team. It is natural for delays and errors to creep in when you’re dealing with a sizable volume of CVs, tests, and interviews. 

Applicant tracking software (ATS) solves this problem. It enables companies to bring all their candidate data onto one platform and streamline applicant management. 78% of employers find it easier to hire top talent with an ATS. 

Some of the main tasks that an ATS takes off your hands are interview scheduling, resume ranking, and recruitment performance tracking. 

This also helps you reduce time spent on mundane administrative tasks, enabling you to make every callback in a timely manner. It can also help your company collaborate efficiently on an online platform when making hiring decisions.

However, not all ATS tools are created the same. Recruitment expert and CEO of workshape.io, Hung Lee lists the 10 must-have features for the ideal ATS:

  1. Data import

  2. Data export

  3. Universal search

  4. Tags

  5. Google Apps integrations

  6. Collaboration

  7. Customization

  8. Messaging

  9. Distribution

  10. Aggregator

Be sure to check these off the list before getting your hands on a new ATS solution. 

3. Deploy recruitment chatbots

Like most niches, AI has entered the recruitment industry. Recruitment chatbots are now deployed to automate initial screening, freeing up HR time to focus on the lower, more sensitive levels of the hiring funnel.

Recruitment chatbots work well because they can respond to queries immediately while being available around the clock.

Additionally, chatbots have gotten much better at mimicking human interactions. 58% of candidates report being comfortable interacting with them in the hiring process. 

If that doesn’t convince you, consider the following use cases that will make them a great addition to your talent acquisition team:

  • Answer potential candidates’ FAQs. No query goes unanswered.

  • Collect resumes and additional documents and information from candidates.

  • Ask initial screening questions and rate performance.

  • Schedule an interview with a recruiter for the next stage of recruitment.

  • Resolve queries coming through multiple streams, like your website, social media pages, and text messages.

Manufacturing company Merrill’s chatbot warmly introduces itself and prompts you to provide your information to be added to the pool of candidates.

screenshot of recruiting chatbot

4. Deploy skills assessment software

Skills testing has become a critical part of the recruitment process, and for good reason. Interviews alone are unable to ascertain candidate skills and cannot verify claims of expertise. And resume scanning software can let unqualified candidates slip through while more qualified candidates are left out because they didn’t include the right keywords in their resumes.

But skills testing is a time-consuming process. Tests need to be created, conducted, graded, and finally reviewed, and all these tasks take up a lot of HR time. 

To reduce your skills testing time, deploy screening test software like TestGorilla that offers pre-designed tests crafted by industry experts. These tools offer a wide array of tests, testing everything from hard skills to personality types. 

The benefits that make skills assessment software ideal for reducing hiring time are:

  • It eliminates the need to wait for hiring managers to create tests. 

  • Candidates don’t have to come in for the test. These can be taken from anywhere, reducing the time spent scheduling and conducting them.

  • Automated grading delivers results quickly so hiring managers don’t have to spend time checking tests. 

For a detailed guide on skills testing, read this guide on what recruiters need to know about candidate skills assessment tests.

5. Plan and prepare for interviews ahead of time

Interviews are one of the most time-intensive parts of the hiring cycle. On average, 23% of hiring time is spent in interviews. 

But interviews let you engage with candidates one-on-one and ask a range of different question types to assess both soft and hard skills. For this reason, rushing interviews is risky and could cost you in terms of hiring quality. 

However, strategic enhancements can improve interview efficiency and help you make the process more insightful and fast. 

Here are some tips to help you do that:

  • Schedule all interviews on the same day of the week, so you can compare and contrast candidates in one sitting.

  • Automate scheduling and reach out to candidates via multiple streams like email and SMS to make sure candidates don’t forget to show up for interviews so they don’t have to be rescheduled.

  • Consider assessment-based group interviews to analyze how candidates perform in group tasks and identify individuals that stand out. This also translates into fewer interviews, thereby saving time. Use scorecards during interviews so it’s easy to take notes and then compare candidate results for faster decision-making.

  • Conduct interviews over video. These can be scheduled sooner than an in-person interview and are convenient for both the candidate and the company.

  • Ask for references at the start of the interview process so it’s easier for you to verify them in parallel with the selection process.

For more tips on how to conduct an interview, read the step-by-step guide to interviews.

How to measure time to hire

To measure your time to hire for a role, use this formula:

screenshot of formula on how to measure time to hire

So, if Person A just accepted the position of, say, a legal associate at your company, here’s how you will arrive at the time to hire for the role.

  • 10th March: Person A applies for the job. This is where you begin counting the time to hire.

  • 12th March: Person A gets a call-back for a preliminary interview after two days.

  • 13th March: Person A appears for the interview one day after getting the call. 

  • 20th March: Person A is invited for a second-round interview five later. The candidate appears for the interview.

  • 24th March: Person A receives an offer for the position four days after the final interview.

  • 30th March: Person A accepts the offer six days after receiving it. The position is filled. 

Now, here’s how we input the dates into our formula.

Time to Hire = (Day Candidate Accepts the Offer) – (Day Candidate Applies for the Position)

= 30th March – 10th March

= 20 Days

You can also compute time to hire by summing the number of days spent during each process in the hiring funnel, but this should account for every process

Time to Hire = 2 + 2 + 1 + 5 + 4 + 6 = 20 Days

This method of calculation helps you see how long each process takes and any delays that may occur. This helps identify inefficiencies, like long skills tests or delays during call-backs.

Additionally, you can also calculate your average time to hire to get a sense of your HR team’s overall performance in a given period. Sum the time to hire for roles filled the period (month/quarter/year) and divide the total by the number of filled roles.

Here’s an example:

screenshot of example of time to hire calculation

Start hiring better candidates quickly

Talent acquisition teams are always looking for ways to make their hiring processes more efficient. Tracking and optimizing time to hire is a crucial piece of that exercise. 

While there’s always a risk of rushed hiring resulting in poor quality of hire, data-driven decisions, and the right strategies will get you quality candidates faster. When done right, shorter hiring cycles lead to a better hiring experience and higher-quality employees.

But to achieve these benefits, recruiters need to re-analyze their hiring funnel, identify inefficiencies, and stay up to speed with recruitment technology. That could mean:

  • investing in recruitment technology, 

  • monitoring applicant experience, 

  • removing kinks in approvals or callbacks, 

  • creating a competitive recruitment advantage,

  • or (likely) a combination of the above.

Whichever direction you take, by being more intentional about the way you approach the factors that affect time to hire, you’ll enable your team to get top talent faster and lower recruitment costs. If you’re not already using TestGorilla, sign up for a free trial and start hiring better candidates quickly.


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