Reduce time to hire: 12 proven tactics

9 minute read

Posted by Chris Platts on 6 July 2020

Let’s face it: we all want to reduce hiring time. Taking too long to fill jobs increases our cost per hire and risks losing top talent. 57% of job seekers lose interest in a vacancy if the hiring process is long [1], so we mustn’t drag our feet when we find people we like.

Recruiters are under increasing pressure to simultaneously cut recruitment costs and hire the best talent quickly. This pressure, coupled with economic uncertainty, means that many candidates feel nervous about changing jobs.

Once you have the data, you can determine which areas need to improve. So, to push you in the right direction, here are 12 proven ways to reduce the time to hire:

  1. Make use of data
  2. Structure your hiring process
  3. Build a talent pipeline well ahead of time
  4. Write a clear job advert
  5. Nail down your careers page
  6. Provide a great candidate experience
  7. Invest in a good Application Tracking System (ATS)
  8. Connect your systems
  9. Keep aligned to the hiring manager
  10. Assessment software
  11. Turbo-charge your sourcing
  12. Work on your employer brand

Time to hire benchmarks

According to SHRM’s Talent Acquisition benchmarking report, filling a vacancy takes an average of 36 days.

This time is broken down as follows:

reduce time to hire
Source: SHRM’s Talent Acquisition benchmarking report

But of course, time to fill benchmarks can vary by industry. Jobvite’s Benchmarking report gives us the following breakdown:

reduce time to hire industry benchmarks

Here are our 12 proven tactics to reduce the time to hire.

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1. Make (good) use of (good) data

The starting point in reducing hiring time is to figure out the data points.

You need to figure out things like:

  • How long it takes to fill a role (from job sign-off to candidate acceptance)
  • How your time to hire compares with other companies in your industry
  • How long it takes for a candidate to move between different stages in your recruitment funnel
  • The average time spent sifting CVs per vacancy
  • The average time spent per phone screen
  • The average time spent per interview
  • The ratio of applicants to phone screens
  • The ratio of phone screens to interviews
  • The ratio of interviews to offers
  • The ratio of offers to acceptance

Acquiring these numbers will show you where inefficiencies lie. Which numbers are alarming? What might be the reason for this?

Knowing which metric you are targeting to improve before you change your recruitment process is essential. 

For example, a large retailer recently approached us about using a pre-hire assessment to reduce the number of phone screens they were conducting by 40%. They (correctly) estimated they could achieve this by using an assessment to identify their best candidates before the phone screen stage, which enabled them to quickly see which candidates to prioritise, thereby improving their phone screen-to-interview ratios. Want to know more? Get in touch with our team.

2. Structure your hiring process

A candidate’s recruitment journey should feel effortless. From start to finish, think about the different steps in the process: job advert, application, phone interview, and so on. Be clear on how much time each stage takes and what information candidates might need at each stage.

A structured hiring process prevents unnecessary roadblocks and dramatically reduces time to hire, as you’ll know exactly what to do at each step [2].

3. Build a talent pipeline well ahead of time

One of the best ways to reduce the time it takes to hire is to build a talent pipeline long before you need it. As a recruiting professional, you should always look for top talent, and a designated talent CRM like Beamery or TalentLyft can help. 

Example: Shopify saw great results from focusing on talent pipelining. The team scaled from 550 to more than 2,000 employees in only 3 years [3].

A quick tip: have an open form on your careers site where candidates can submit applications for future positions or receive job alerts.

4. Write a clear job advert

How can you expect to attract suitable candidates if they’re unclear about the role? Contrary to popular belief, a successful job advert is not one that attracts the most candidates; it’s the one that attracts the most relevant candidates.

This can reduce your hiring time because it will discourage inappropriate candidates from applying. It’s the first step to filtering candidates. 

Keep it concise and engaging, and outline some key benefits of working for you. You can read more on crafting the perfect job description here.

5. Nail down your careers page

Your careers page is an essential tool for getting right when attracting candidates. It’s usually the first time they get an impression of the business, and it will be a page they go back to when considering the job.

You’ve got to sell it enough so that it generates interest in applying, or candidates will drop off, and time to hire will suffer as a result of fewer applications and less suitable candidates.

A quick tip: You should be looking at the conversion rate of your careers page from visitor to applicant.

6. Provide a great candidate experience

Candidates need to be engaged throughout the whole recruiting process. If your candidate’s experience is poor, they’ll jump out of it, and many will bad-mouth you to your peers in your industry.

Think about how each stage works for candidates and ensure it’s an experience highlighting your company’s engaging nature.

The average time from a candidate entering a recruitment pipeline to when they’re hired is 34 days [4]. During this period, you’ll need to keep in regular contact with the candidate and provide feedback quickly when required. Once the application process is finished, it’s good to ask the candidate about their experience so you can find ways to improve it. 

For example, KPMG New Zealand managed to simultaneously enhance their candidate experience and decrease their time to hire by a whopping 35 percent [5].

7. Invest in a good Application Tracking System (ATS)

A good quality ATS is important at each point of your recruiting process. It will help you increase efficiency and reduce time to hire by posting your ad on numerous job boards and notifying you immediately when an application comes in.

It should include interview scheduling, application streamlining and sorting, talent pipeline building, assessment integrations, compliance-checking, and automation capabilities.

Think carefully when deciding on an ATS – it depends on company needs, and try to test it before you buy.

8. Connect your systems

Many hiring teams use several different tools in the hiring process. You’ll want to reduce the number of systems your recruiters or managers have to log into. Most ATS providers have an ecosystem approach and are willing to integrate with partners for free; however, some ATSs try to do everything, usually quite poorly. 

As a result, you need to ensure that each software tool you’re using works together; trust us, it’s easy to get muddled and lose track of how they all fit together.  

Map the different tools you use at each stage of the hiring process. If everything is seamlessly integrated, you’re good to go. If not, your time to hire may suffer due to manual processes and workarounds. Yuk!

9. Keep aligned to the hiring teams

To send hiring teams the best candidates possible from the start, you’ll need to be crystal clear on your ideal candidate. Hiring teams and managers can get carried away with unrealistic expectations; it’s your job to manage them and provide them with hard data on whether they’re realistic.

Collective awareness will enable you to fine-tune your sourcing process, attract the best-calibre candidates, and reduce the time to hire. 

10. Try assessment software

For high-volume hiring, pre-hire assessment software will significantly reduce the time spent sifting applicants. However, assessment software can potentially add to the time it takes to hire low-volume candidates by adding an extra step in the process. 

Look for tools that enable screening candidates’ skills, behaviours, and cultural fit, preferably in a real-life context. Widely used assessments such as psychometrics and cognitive ability tests fall short of this goal by assuming that behaviour can be decoupled from context. Overwhelming research into ecological validity proves that it can’t and shouldn’t, which means that off-the-shelf solutions are unlikely to predict success in your unique environment.

Make sure you find an assessment provider that can tailor the assessment to your specific needs, job roles, and company culture.

11. Turbo-charge your talent sourcing

Measuring the effectiveness of candidate sourcing channels will indicate whether there might be an issue in the sourcing phase. Overlaying a simple quality of hire or employee attrition metric with where a candidate was sourced can help you identify where to invest your recruitment efforts. If you’re yet to establish a robust quality of hire metric, you can use your pre-hire assessment data as a proxy of candidate quality and cross-reference this with where candidates are sourced.

Once you know the most effective sourcing channels, you can improve your talent acquisition in some ways using the following:

  • Programmatic advertising: running paid ad campaigns to specific target groups to advertise your job openings
  • Social sourcing: use social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., to identify the people in your industry
  • Referrals: the most common way candidates learn about jobs is through referrals – recruit your existing employees to refer their friends to your openings

12. Work on your employer brand

Another factor to consider when looking to reduce time to hire is your talent brand. Without an impressive employee value proposition, you’ll fall behind in attracting the best people to your company.

Unfortunately, this isn’t something that will come at the click of a finger. It takes time. If you’re not doing it yet, work hard to determine what makes your employee experience unique. Why would candidates want to work there? Try to go beyond values and into your colleagues’ day-to-day realities, which makes it special.


If left unmanaged or unmeasured, time to hire can significantly affect hiring quality and recruitment costs. Although it remains one of the key metrics recruiters track, it’s best not to consider it the only indicator of recruitment performance.

Above, we’ve taken you through 12 key steps to reducing it without affecting your quality of hire. Be sure to systematically identify bottlenecks at each step of the recruitment process before making any changes to your recruitment process, and who knows, this time next year, you could be the most efficient and effective recruiters in your sector.

How mature is your hiring process?

There are lots of things that determine a successful recruitment strategy. Is it time to figure out where your weak spots are?


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About ThriveMap

ThriveMap creates customised assessments for high volume roles, which take candidates through an online “day in the life” experience of work in your company. Our assessments have been proven to reduce staff turnover, reduce time to hire, and improve quality of hire.

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