Time To Fill: Formula and How It Compares to Time To Hire

Updated February 3, 2023

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Time to fill is a measurement showing how quickly a company's human resources department screens, interviews and selects a candidate. This measurement is useful if you're responsible for assessing a company's hiring process. If you're interested in improving your employer's hiring process, learning more about this metric can help you use it more effectively.

In this article, we define the concept of time to fill, explain how it works and list ways to reduce your employer's time to fill, then compare it to the concept of time to hire.

What is time to fill?

Time to fill is how you measure the time to fill a position. It's a metric that can show you how long it takes to hire someone. This is important because a human resources department often wants to implement a fast and efficient hiring process to quicken onboarding procedures. Your employer's time to fill can help you determine how to advertise open positions, recruit candidates and hire new employees. For example, the time to fill might show you that the hiring process of the company you work for is taking too long, which you can then revise to shorten.

The average time to fill may vary depending on factors, such as the company's size, location and industry. For example, a larger company might have a shorter time to fill because they may have more resources to recruit candidates. A company in a large industry, such as healthcare, may have a shorter time to fill because there may be more candidates than needed to fill open positions.

Read more: Q&A: How Long Does the Hiring Process Take?

How does time to fill work?

There are a few different starting points that you could pick when using time to fill, such as when the human resources department creates the job opening or when they advertise the job. You could also make it when the hiring manager submits the job requisition for acceptance. The end date is typically when the candidate accepts the job offer or sometimes when they start their first day.

Time to fill is the number of days between the start and end date, which you can simply count. Though, you can calculate the company's average time to fill by adding the number of days it took to fill all of the positions within a time and dividing that by the number of roles, like this:

[(Time to fill Job A) + (Time to fill Job B) + (Time to fill Job C) + (Time to fill Job D)] / number of jobs = time to fill

For example, if you filled four positions and they took 10, 20, 20 and 30 days to fill, you would add those numbers and divide that number by four. The equation looks like this:

(10 + 20 + 20 + 30) / 4 = 20 days

The company's average time to fill a position is 20 days.

Related: Q&A: How Long Do Job Postings Stay Up?

How to reduce time to fill

Here are a few steps that can help reduce a company's time to fill:

1. Create a referral program

Consider creating a referral program that motivates your colleagues to refer a candidate to the company. Choose incentives that give employees a valuable reason to refer someone, like a bonus. Once you create the program, send periodic reminders to employees. You could even email them the job descriptions so they can easily send them to their referrals. A referral program can help distribute the job posts, which can quicken the hiring process.

Related: A Guide to Employee Referral Programs (Plus How To Make One)

2. Develop a database

Develop a database or spreadsheet of potential job candidates. This can include past candidates that applied after you hired someone else or candidates who progressed to the last few stages of the hiring process. You could even ask a recruiter to search for candidates on job-seeking websites. This database allows you to skip looking for new candidates when posting an open position. You may know some or most of these candidates' credentials, which can make choosing a candidate take less time.

Related: What Is Talent Pooling? (With Benefits, How-To Guide and Tips)

3. Look for candidates continually

By continually looking for candidates, you can keep adding to the database. Then, when you have an open position while searching for candidates, you can offer them an interview more quickly. You can complete this step without an open position, which allows you to meet candidates you can contact when a role opens. This can help you hire high-quality candidates in a timely fashion. 

Read more: 14 Recruiting Tips for Finding Better Candidates

4. Analyze the processes

This means looking at the hiring process to see how long each component takes. You may find that a certain process takes much longer than other aspects. For example, if the interviewing process takes twice as long as the other hiring processes, you might try to analyze what's making it take longer. Once you determine what is taking so long, you can devise solutions to shorten that phase, such as allocating more employees to interview candidates and shortening the interview process.

Related: 10 Best Practices for Streamlining Your Hiring Process

5. Use technology

You can also use recruitment technology to search for candidates. Recruitment technology or programs let you publish open job posts on different social media platforms. This may make it easier to distribute these materials to a large audience. You could also use other pieces of technology to digitize the hiring process. For example, you could perform digital interviews or onboarding. Try to research different programs you can use to help improve your employer's hiring processes.

Related: 12 Modern Recruitment Techniques for Your Hiring Process

What is time to hire?

Time to hire measures different aspects of the hiring process. Time to hire starts when the candidate applies to the job and ends when they accept the offer, showing you how efficient the hiring process is. To find out your employer's time to hire, you can subtract the day the candidate applied from the day they accepted the offer. For example, if a candidate applied on day four of the posted job and got the offer on day 10, then the time to hire is six days.

Related: What Is the Average Response Time After an Interview?

Time to fill versus time to hire

While time to fill starts when you publish a job post, time to hire starts when you source a chosen candidate. You can use time to fill to measure how long it takes to complete the hiring process. Time to hire measures the effectiveness of the hiring process and how fast you found a selected candidate. Both measures are important to calculate and track. You may want a fast time to fill so you can onboard quicker and the time to hire faster to improve your employer's recruitment process.


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