‘Time to Fill’—Worst Metric Ever?

Since HR typically does not have control over all the aspects of recruiting, we’re really facilitators more than [we’re] managers, says expert Jeremy Eskenazi, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CMC.

Since “Time to Fill” is a metric determined by how much time hiring managers (HMs) take to fill a position, it’s a terrible measure of recruiter productivity.

Here’s a chart that Jeremy Eskenazi, managing principal of Riviera Advisors, Inc., uses to help recruiters understand how much influence others have, particularly HMs. Eskenazi offered his tips at the Society for Human Resource Management’s Annual Conference and Exposition, held recently in Las Vegas.

What Slows Down Recruiting

Process Step

Ideal Time


Kickoff Meeting and Profile Lockdown

1 week

  • HM availability


Sourcing and Screening

2–3 Weeks

  • Slow HM feedback
  • Lack of screening questions
  • Unrealistic candidate profile


Interviewing and Decision

2 weeks

  • HM availability
  • Interview team not identified or prepped by HM
  • Slow feedback from HM


Reference check and offer approval

½ Week

  • Availability of approver
  • Out-of-range candidate


Candidate offer and consideration

½ week

  • HM doesn’t effectively court and sell candidate


Candidate Resignation notice

2 ½ weeks
(or more)

  • Relocation
  • Immigration
  • Trailing spouse


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Managing Expectations

HMs assume that we in HR have a magic button, Eskenazi says. That means that managing expectations is often our number one job.
When people ask for something or request support, Eskenazi says, always:

  • Clarify your understanding of what needs to be done.
  • Calibrate when and how you will accomplish the task.
  • Be 100% realistic.


Contracting involves defining roles, responsibilities, and outcomes in advance, Eskenazi says. Contracting involves simple questions.

  • What needs to be accomplished?
  • Who will be responsible for what task?
  • How will we measure our success or accomplishment?
  • When will we know we have completed the task?

Use a checklist to make sure you touch on each item you need to discuss with the HM. Then, send an e-mail that summarizes your agreements. For example, you might reiterate that “If you want to hire in 3 weeks, you will have to respond to résumés in 24 hours.”

Service Level Agreements 

Some firms use formalized Service Level Agreements (SLAs), says Eskenazi. SLAs provide a written understanding of the contracted relationship.

  • Eskenazi recommends using an intake checklist, which helps ensure complete understanding for all parties involved. There are four key elements of a great SLA:
  • Goals
  • Roles/Process
  • Speed/Time
  • Consequences

What’s Valued in a Recruiter?

Eskenazi says organizations today really value recruiting professionals who:

  • “Get it,” and can understand and clearly and credibly communicate how the business operates.
  • Contract well and live up to their side of the bargain.
  • Perform on metrics that matter, such as speed and quality.
  • Have built and constantly refresh and maintain solid outside networks of talent that may benefit the organization in the future.
  • Understand how to connect the process of recruiting to the rest of the HR organization, such as by linking recruiting with talent development.

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Saying ‘No’? Triangulate.

Saying “No” is one of the skills that differentiates customer service recruiters from consulting recruiters, but most HR pros are not wired to say no effectively, Eskenazi says. Often this is due to a fear of confrontation. You have to practice saying no, he advises, and ensure that you are able to maintain your personal and professional dignity, as well as the dignity of those you say no to. In most cases, we really don’t use the word “No,” he adds, but we can express ourselves professionally using different words.

Eskenazi suggests that recruiters “triangulate” their conversations by talking about the issue or problem rather than making the conversation about the other party.

Saying ‘No’ as Consultants to the Business

Most senior leaders appreciate constructive conflict if it is well-thought-out and presented in a positive way, says Eskenazi.  As consultants to the business, be prepared to make fact-based recommendations, and be willing to accept that they may not be accepted. Especially with senior management, he cautions, be prepared to ensure an “out” if your push back is not accepted.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, why HR is not a customer service function, plus an introduction to BLR’s report: Recruiting Best Practices: Finding and Attracting Talent in 2015’s Challenging Business Climate.

1 thought on “‘Time to Fill’—Worst Metric Ever?”

  1. As a long time HR professional, I almost laugh each time that I see some form of ‘time to fill internal roles’ on another HR professionals resume. Like THEY did something great. Reality 101, some hiring managers hire quickly, some hire poorly, some hire slowly, some don’t even look at resumes for 3 months, some hire well, etc. NONE of the afore-mentioned has anything to do with HR though. So HR professionals taking credit (or blame) is a joke.

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