Traditional recruitment metrics are not fit for purpose

Part 1 of our series on useless, traditional recruitment metrics

If you were to review an organisation’s recruitment performance dashboard, what would you expect to see?  Typically cost per hire, time to hire, sourcing percentages and various numbers highlighting how many candidates made it to interview and then how many got offers?

Do those numbers really help you understand how well you are hiring?  Do they allow you to improve your recruitment process or measure whether your recruitment process is effective or not?


They don’t.

In fact, they may be taking you down a route that negatively impacts hiring performance.


We believe you are tracking and measuring the wrong parts of your recruitment process.  In this blog, we are going to take a look at the time to hire metric…


This measure has no relation to either the quality of candidates or the quality of the recruitment process (we call this Hiring Quality for those of you who haven’t read our previous blogs).

If your average time to hire is too high and you are getting pressure to reduce it, then you will do what you can to speed up sourcing and pre-screening candidate activities.  Result!  Time to hire will reduce, let’s greenlight this KPI.  However, it is more than likely that the quality of candidates being submitted to Hiring Managers will plummet.

If you do not measure the quality of shortlisted candidates, will this be apparent straight away?  Probably not.  However, six months later when you start receiving fierce feedback from disgruntled Hiring Managers then don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Your time to hire KPI will look great when you present to your boss, but your Hiring Manager customers will not be happy.  And your boss will probably hear about this too!

Secondly, this single, standard recruitment metric doesn’t take into account the difficulties that can occur in recruitment.  Nor does it take into account the date a new hire needs to start.  You could recruit quickly and deliver on time for roles where there is no urgency, but recruit slowly and late where there is and still meet your time to hire target.

Also, we can pretty much guarantee that at the beginning of a new brief, your ideal time to hire and the Hiring Manager’s ideal time to hire are probably very different.  Meaning this KPI becomes even more inadequate.


However, our Hiring Quality recruitment metric addresses these issues.


It measures candidate quality and hiring process quality for each individual role – it doesn’t take the however many million roles you are working on at one tie and group the good and the bad together skewing your figures.

As part of measuring each role individually, there is a quality score relating to the requirements and expectations of the Hiring Manager that you agreed at the beginning of the process (another great part of our platform!).  So no more “he said, she said” back and forth when you and your Hiring Manager can’t agree on interview dates.

Recruitment teams need to move away from easy to measure but sometimes useless recruitment metrics like time to hire.  It is time to start to measure and use the future talent acquisition metric of choice – Hiring Quality.


Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on the time to hire metric, do you agree or disagree?  Leave us a comment below and we will be sure to get back to you!

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Comments (4)

  1. Sirine

    February 4, 2017

    You do raise a valid point in the article. I would like to stress that we should not not necessarily get rid of the traditional recruitment metrics such as time to fill. Rather we should use them wisely and keep in mind a reasonable target, and maybe vary the KPI depending on the seniority of the position being filled.
    While I do agree that hiring quality is a much more reflective KPI , I am curious to know how exactly that can be measured. One measure I try to use is the % of hired staff that leave within one year of being hired. Or the % of hired staff that have excellent performance reviews at the completion of their probationary period. Aside from that, it is very challenging to put a metric on hiring quality.

    1. Gavin Speirs

      February 6, 2017

      Hi Sirine, Many thanks for your comment. I agree, we shouldn’t remove all traditional recruitment metrics, but they need reviewed as I don’t believe they are in line with what is required to measure true recruitment effectiveness.

      we’d be delighted to show you a demo of the platform to show how we believe we have captured something special in our measurement of hiring quality.

      Thanks, Gavin.

  2. Jeremy Russon

    February 13, 2017

    Firstly, couldn’t agree more about the general relevance of many of the current recruitment metrics, particularly from an in-house perspective. None of them truly drive quality of candidate but one thing I need to pick up with you relates to a round-table I lead about 18 months ago on this topic.

    We had about 15 different industries represented and the general view was that QoH is an overall measure of the quality of the process – but needs to be measured at all points to understand where the process is not delivering the quality and thus to make improvements in the right place.

    Where I do disagree slightly is with your line above:

    “This measure has no relation to either the quality of candidates or the quality of the recruitment process”

    Two of the industries there were driven by short-term, high value, people-driven contracts as their business models. They generally won business on the Monday and were in-place the following week so having a recruitment process that turned people round in that timescale was key…….their average contract was 6 months (project-based) so the time to hire was absolutely key as a measure of process quality……though they both accepted it didn’t necessarily equate to quality of person recruited !

    The biggest challenge we found that day in defining the right metrics is that they mean something different in every company and are hence measured very differently – one of the media companies, for example, said that QoH included length of tenure in the business, regardless of performance. It was relevant to them but nobody else…….

    1. Howard Flint

      February 15, 2017

      Hi Jeremy, thanks for your comments. I don’t think you are contradicting what is being said in the article. The issue I have with Time to Hire is the blanket application of often an arbitrary target. In the example you give, time is critical for these roles and they clearly have a critical time to hire target. That is great. However my experience is that the target is applied to many roles of different types and levels of urgency which can lead to the wrong behaviours and results.

      I also agree that there is no defacto standard and agreed measurement for quality in the hiring process. Maybe worth you having a look at the work the team at Talenytics are doing in defining and measuring a single metric Hiring Quality. It measures both candidate and process quality, including stakeholder expectations and post hire employee quality.
      Many thanks, Howard

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