What Is Time to Fill And How To Optimize It To Hire Quickly?

In this blog post, we will study everything about time to fill, including how to calculate it and what to do to achieve an optimal rate.

What Is Time to Fill And How To Optimize It To Hire Quickly?
Time To Fill

Time to fill refers to the amount of time needed to fill a job opening. It is a recruitment metric that allows businesses to plan their hiring processes better, offering insights into the sourcing strategies and recruitment methods that would help them attract, engage, and hire candidates quickly and in the long run.

To keep up with the demands of the job market, HR teams are often pressed with time to hire swiftly. Sure, it is exciting indeed to scale new heights of growth. However, expanding the workforce without compromising the quality of talent is of utmost importance.

It is not an easy balancing act, and HR must ensure they get it right. Bringing in the wrong people can take the soaring business for a ride (it would not like). You must, therefore, follow a well-designed hiring process to stay focused on your end goals.

In this blog post, we will study everything there is to know about time to fill, including how to calculate it and what to do to achieve an optimal rate. But first, let us discuss another recruitment metric it is commonly confused with, i.e., time to hire.

Time to fill vs. time to hire: What is the difference?

The two recruitment metrics hold much importance in a typical hiring process and are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same. We created a table for you to demonstrate the top differences between time to fill and time to hire:

Time to fill

Time to hire


Starts from when a job requisition request is approved to when the candidate accepts the job offer.

Starts from when a candidate applies for a job to the time they accept the company's offer.


The metric shines a light on the speed and quality of the hiring process and the candidate experience.

This candidate-focused metric showcases how promptly they go through the hiring process.

Time taken



Factors such as job position and industry vertical influence both metrics. For instance, C-level job openings can be harder to fill compared to other roles. Similarly, hospitality and construction are two domains that are hardest to recruit for.

How to calculate time to fill?

The calculation is simple. Time to fill represents the total number of calendar days your company takes to fill a position - from when the hiring manager posts a job requisition to when a candidate accepts the job offer.

How do you calculate the average time to fill?

Calculate your company’s average by adding all the time to fill measurements for each job position filled within a defined timeframe and dividing that number by the number of roles. For instance, if you are hired for four roles, within 20, 30, 25, and 45 days respectively, then your average time to fill a position will be: (20 + 30 + 25 + 45)/4 = 120/4 = 30 days.

If you have positions that are always open - for instance, for hiring junior sales reps - then do not include them in your time to fill formula as they will inflate your average time to fill over time - without positively influencing your hiring process.

What is a good benchmark for time to fill?

According to SHRM, the average time to fill is 42 days. Please note that not all companies calculate the recruitment metric in the same way. Besides, having a higher time to fill than other companies does not necessarily mean your hiring process is more effective than yours.

As mentioned, you must consider the job position you are trying to fill and the industry you operate in while calculating your time to fill. Moreover, the best practice is to track the metric internally and compare it over a period of time.

What are the benefits of measuring time to fill?

Data is only helpful if it is applied for the greater good. Similarly, calculating your time to fill only makes sense if you use it to improve your selection process and optimize your business plans. Three primary benefits of measuring time to fill are as follows:

1. It helps resolve inefficiencies in your recruitment.

Time to fill, when tracked over a period, helps you identify areas of inefficiencies in your hiring process and streamline it for the better. You will start understanding which job roles or departments take longer to fill and why.

With the information, you can also highlight the talent sourcing strategies that are most effective and why. For instance, recruiting for healthcare professionals happens faster if outsourced to third-party outsourcing agencies.

On the other hand, marketing job vacancies are best filled through LinkedIn job ads. Measuring the time to fill helps you become more innovative when hiring.

2. It enables you to plan your recruitment efforts better.

By measuring time to fill, you understand how long it takes, on average, to replace an employee with a similar experience.

For example, if there are plans to replace a senior analyst and the average time to fill that job position is 50 days, you will start your recruitment efforts sooner rather than later.

This also allows you to make contingency plans for the vacant position and execute onboarding and handover procedures more effectively.

If it takes longer for you to fill vacant job positions, it is best to review and optimize each stage of the hiring plan - one at a time - rather than plan a complete overhaul of the recruitment process, which can overwhelm your HR team.

3. It reduces the cost of unfilled job positions.

Measuring time to fill helps you save money. You may spend a fortune on advertising job vacancies. However, the less time a role is advertised, the greater your savings.

Moreover, if your HR team spends more time filling specific vacancies for more extended periods, that will invariably increase your overhead costs.

Besides, the longer it takes for you to hire someone, the lower your customer satisfaction is likely to be, which impacts your company’s overall performance and bottom line.

What are the ways to reduce time to fill?

There is value in ensuring your time to fill does not diverge much from your industry average. To make your hiring process as efficient and effective as possible, here is what you can do:

1. Build and leverage talent pipelines

There is no need to look for candidates from scratch every time a vacancy arises. Check your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or any other recruitment software to identify candidates you have screened and/or engaged with previously before filling the job position with someone else.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Reach out to them and ask if they would be interested in the new job opportunity. Even if you do not have an immediate requirement, lay the foundation for a strong relationship so you can contact them in the future and increase your chances of reducing your time to fill.

2. Create an effective referral program

Offer incentives to your current workforce to refer a member from their family, a friend of theirs, or someone from their professional network who may or may not be seeking a new job but is suitable for the open job role in your company.

Create an online form that is simple to fill up. You could opt for Google Forms if you are not using any fancy referral tool. Draft an email template your existing employees can use to refer suitable and qualified candidates for job vacancies.

Share specific details about the open roles, such as the job description and an overview of the employee referral process, to make it easier for your employees to speak to those they want to refer to. Referrals reduce the time spent on job advertising and resume screening.

3. Critique your hiring process

Hiring faster or slower than average has its drawbacks. If your hiring process is too short, you might not screen enough candidates thoroughly and risk making bad hires. Therefore, compare your quality of hire trends to your time to hire.

Check for any correlation between hiring faster and hiring better candidates. If a shorter time to hire negatively affects your quality of hire, add more screening stages, such as pre-employment skill assessments to filter candidates on a mass level.

Sometimes, longer hiring processes could impact your candidate experience. No one wants to spend months sitting for tests and interviews with a single company. Candidates actively looking to switch jobs will choose the first company that offers a job to them.

Therefore, aim to speed up your recruitment funnel. Have structured interviews and streamline candidate communication with emails and calls. Let the candidates know if the entire hiring process will take 4-6 weeks.

4. Digitize administrative tasks

The HR team and the hiring manager must constantly communicate with each other proactively and clearly. If they are not on the same page, there is no way the candidate can be appropriately updated about the application status.

Therefore, please ensure clear objectives and regular internal catch-ups and that the deliverables are crystal clear. An ATS in this matter enables easy communication between candidates, recruiters, and hiring teams.

Use built-in email and messaging templates and calendar scheduling options to reduce your time on admin tasks. Ensure your ATS links your job vacancies automatically to selected job boards and social media channels.

Besides, send automated emails with an interview appointment that automatically syncs with the work calendars. Save time going to and fro arranging a suitable slot for your candidates.

Over to you

At the end of the day, you must hire in a way that best suits your company. The time to fill recruitment metrics helps you stay on track and recruit qualified professionals quickly - without compromising workforce quality. For optimal results, measure it along with other relevant metrics and take quick action when you identify gaps. Good luck!