Skip to main content

We in recruitment have access to previously unseen granularity of data. But, with so many things to keep track of and optimize, how do you decide which recruiting metrics to focus on?

To help, in this article, I’ve split the recruitment metrics into what I consider “key” and “advanced”.

Key metrics are what I keep track of regularly and what I recommend non-HR professionals learn more about.

The advanced are for when you have the capacity to keep track of more (i.e. you have hired a Talent/People Operations Specialist in your Talent Acquisition team).

While all of them are important, it’s rare that you’ll have the time to actively keep track of everything.

So, rather than getting decision paralysis, start with the key metrics and then work your way towards the advanced ones.

What Are Recruiting Metrics?

Recruiting metrics are used to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization's hiring process.

These metrics help organizations evaluate the performance of their recruitment activities, optimize procedures, and make data-driven decisions to improve hiring outcomes.

Why Are Recruiting Metrics Important?

Recruiting metrics are crucial for helping you improve the efficiency of your hiring process, create a great candidate experience, and ultimately recruit talent that will help the organization achieve its goals.

Amongst other things, I use metrics in conjunction with other data sources to lower costs, optimize candidate sourcing, and guide the training and development of my team members.

Key Recruiting metrics

key recruitment metrics graphic

Let’s dive into the key recruiting metrics you’ll be tracking while building your metrics-tracking capabilities.

Time to Fill & Time to Hire

Time to Fill (TTF) and Time to Hire (TTH) are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences.

Technically speaking, TTF is from when you opened a position to when you have a person hired and TTH is the time it took for the specific candidate you have to move from application to hire. Usually, they are measured in the number of days.

I’d say Time to Fill is a more important metric at the beginning because it shows you on a higher level how long it takes for your company to hire anyone in a given position.

As a benchmark, I’ve never been able to push the average down below 30 days and I wouldn’t recommend it either because you may be rushing your decisions. 

However, if your hiring time is consistently above 90 days, you may want to investigate why. Is it the salary you’re offering? Too small a candidate pool? It’s not the end of the world, but something to investigate further.

Different organizations also have definitions of “hired”. Some consider a person “hired” when they sign their contract/offer letter. Others consider a candidate “hired” when they actually start.

My recommendation is that, if you’re hiring in a global capacity, for ease of comparison use the time when they signed their contract rather than the start date.

This is because the start date can differ wildly from the contract date, due to notice periods in different jurisdictions. In the US it can be almost no difference, but in a country like Germany, it can be 3-6 months. This means that using the start date will not yield any comparable results as Germany will look slower to hire.

Most modern applicant tracking systems (ATS) make it easy to modify your starting and end points for each role.

Number of hires (vs. number of open positions)

You always want to make sure you know how many hires you have per month/quarter/year and how that stacks up with the headcount plan you had.

The two go hand in hand because you could have a low number of hires made e.g. 15 for the year, but if that is all the open headcount there was for the year then you have achieved 100% fill!

A “good” average per month depends on the market, your roles, your employer brand, and the team you have.

For example, if you’re a startup with almost no employer brand recognition, expect a lower number of placements unless you invest more money into either a larger team or external recruiters.

Depending on the roles, sometimes as low as 2-3 placements per recruiter can be a great achievement!

On the other hand, larger companies with more candidate attraction should expect to average around 4-5 a month, once again depending on the role. If it’s all customer experience, that would be more. If it’s all Principal Software Engineers—4 would be amazing a month!

Source of hire

There’s an ever-expanding number of sources of candidates nowadays, so it’s important to choose ones that are a good fit for your area, industry, and location. The main categories of sources are job hires, social media, direct sourcing, and referrals.

Most modern ATSs have a way for you to keep track of each candidate and where they came from, either by generating links for each job board or social media that tags it accordingly or integrating with them to show you directly.

With so many choices, it’s important to keep track of where candidates you hired came from so that you can invest more in those sources. Recruitment is costly, so making smart, data-backed decisions on where you spend is important.

Take tech hiring as an example. Off the top of my head, I can think of so many platforms—Hired, Cord, Talent.io, Remoteok, Haystack, Honeypot.io. 

You may be on some of those, or all of them, but looking at which ones yield good hires will avoid spending creep.

Who knows, maybe your best source is actually social media/community outreach which most of the time is free anyway!

Download our 2024 Workplace Trends Report to stay ahead in a transforming HR landscape. Get insights from leaders on trends that will define your strategies in AI, talent dynamics, and DEI.

Download our 2024 Workplace Trends Report to stay ahead in a transforming HR landscape. Get insights from leaders on trends that will define your strategies in AI, talent dynamics, and DEI.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive the requested content, our newsletter, and occasional emails related to People Managing People. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more details, please review our privacy policy. We're protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Number of applicants

This is quite a straightforward metric. On its own it may not say much, but it’s important to keep track of how many people you have to choose from.

For entry-level roles, you should expect more candidates as the requirements are lower and there should be more people.

If that’s not the case (e.g. a Customer Service role only receives two 2 candidates in a week) you may want to take a look at why that is. Are links working properly? Have you described the role appropriately?

On the other hand, if you’re consistently getting over 200 candidates a day, you may want to implement a closing deadline for posting so you or your team are not overwhelmed with applications.

Conversion ratio

The conversion ratio is quite simply how many candidates are passing through each stage vs how many candidates progressed to the stage.

This is probably my favorite metric because it tells you so much depending on where you are looking in the pipeline.

For example, if you are a recruiter who has screened 10 candidates, and had 8 submissions to the hiring manager, then the conversion rate from screen to the introduction is 80%.

Then let’s say the hiring manager interviews all of them, and only passes one person to the next stage, the conversion ratio from the introduction to 2nd stage interview is only 12.5%. This is significantly lower!

Here is where looking a bit deeper into the story comes in. There are a few reasons I have seen why a scenario like the one above might happen:

  1. The recruiter is passing too many people off to the hiring manager and has not vetted candidates properly
  2. The recruiter and the hiring manager are not on the same page as to the requirements of the job (could be either party has not understood or been clear).
  3. There is an unexpected requirement that has come up over the course of the interview that was not reflected in this pool of candidates (e.g. hiring manager decides skill X moves from “nice to have” to “essential” so none of the candidates pass).
  4. The interview style is not fit for purpose so no candidate is ever going to pass.

There are more, but the point here is to study any discrepancies in conversion ratios across the recruitment process.

I use this metric to assess team performance and advise hiring managers e.g. if no one gets through the test stage then it’s worth examining the test.

One thing to note is that a good conversion ratio is no replacement for keeping up the volume of outreach.

A 100% conversion rate may sound great but if you have only introduced, screened, and interviewed one candidate, that is not a proper search in the market for qualified candidates.

Recruitment funnel speed

It is essential to keep an eye on how long your hiring process takes and one way to do that is to see how long candidates spend in each stage of the funnel. Otherwise, you risk losing out on good candidates because they will go to other companies that can move quicker.

There is no need to rush through a process, but it’s great to review what is happening in each stage and check if something needs nudging or changing.

For example, if people are spending too long in the “testing" stage, why is that? Are candidates not willing to go through the test task you have for them? Are they going through the test but waiting too long for feedback on your company’s end? 

Both of these scenarios are something to investigate to what can be done to make the process smoother. I have had occasions where the test was either not a fit, or the link wasn’t working for candidates, and nobody flagged until I asked them about it.

This also will have a direct impact on the TTF metric above, so it’s important to understand if one stage is holding up the process.

Offer acceptance rate

This is a very simple ratio of how many offers are made vs. how many offers are accepted. In my previous article on how to make a job offer, I outline my tricks to help ensure that candidates are more likely to accept an offer, but there is always a risk.

That’s why I never make it my aim to have a 100% offer acceptance rate. That is simply impossible in the long run, and you are setting yourself up for failure.

Additionally, if you have that as a target you may concede to perhaps some unreasonable demands you really shouldn’t and make a hire that you will end up regretting. 

I’ve had it happen where I, as the Talent Leader, advocated against hiring someone whose working demands we couldn't meet. The hiring manager was insistent on keeping their own “track record” of never having an offer rejected. 2 months later the person was out as it just didn’t work.

A good rate is really dependent on the market, role, employment conditions (salary, benefits), and the volume of hires.

If you have a few hires and are considered a good employer, you really should be aiming for 90%+. If any of the other conditions are less than ideal you should adjust this accordingly.

I’ve never dropped my expectations for my teams below 75%, regardless of role.

Candidate Net Promoter Score (CNPS)

Candidate Net Promoter Score (CNPS) is similar to the net promoter scores in customer experience management.

It’s a numerical score—usually out of 10 and anyone scoring less than 7 is considered a “Detractor”—i.e. their experience is not positive with your company.

The easiest way to manage the CNPS is to let the ATS do the heavy lifting for you. Some ATSs allow you to send candidates surveys about their experience at any stage of the hiring process using preset templates or customized questions.

That way you can have a mix of numerical (quantitative) and qualitative answers so people can both score your hiring process and elaborate on any issues.

It’s a great way to gather feedback on the candidate experience—what works well and what you can improve on if you need to.

Personally, I prefer to send a candidate survey upon exit from the recruitment process. This could be at any stage post-first screen/first interview. I generally don’t ask for feedback via surveys during the process as I think that can be a bit spammy.

If candidates are rejected at the application stage, they may not have sufficient information about your hiring process beyond the application page to help.

Recently, I have seen some ATSs providing you the ability to create a feedback form at the end of an application especially aimed at assessing accessibility. 

Diversity of pipeline

This is essential to keep in mind. While I do not advocate box-ticking, or having a minimum number of candidates from the X category, it’s important to keep track of the number of candidates from diverse backgrounds for your industry or area applying. 

If you don’t have any in the pipeline, how can you encourage wider representation of your community? If you do have an accurate representation, what did you do to encourage this so you can keep it up and develop it further?

In some jurisdictions, it can be an issue keeping data on things like ethnic background, gender, etc. so please familiarise yourself with your jurisdiction’s rules first. 

Additionally, you can make the diversity-style questionnaire part of every application, but please be aware that some are incredibly long and can lengthen your application process significantly. 

A long aplication process can discourage people from completing the questionnaire or the application altogether so only ask for the information that’s truly important to you.

Recruiter effectiveness metrics—screens, outreach

This is something to keep track when you lead a team of recruiters and want to better understand the performance of each recruiter to help in their development. 

It’s difficult to say how many recruiter calls or outreach messages are appropriate as every situation is different, but it’s good to set some expectations.

For example, for volume hiring, I’d expect them to have around 4-5 calls a day with candidates at minimum. If it’s a leadership hire, the expectation can be around 2-3 as they will need to spend more time researching and reaching out to candidates individually.

Additionally, you need to keep in mind how many roles a recruiter has. If they have 2 roles, they can’t reach the 4-5 calls a day for an entire month. If they are fully loaded (e.g. around 15-20 roles) then it’s reasonable they should be able to reach their targets for outreach or screens.

It’s important to keep track of these so that, if something goes wrong, you can see if you need to pull or push the outreach levers, optimize messaging, work on the screening call, or the volume of calls.

Advanced Recruiting metrics

advanced recruitment metrics graphic

These are for when you’ve built up your capabilities and feel ready to keep track of more metrics.

They are still important and helpful, but you may become overwhelmed by trying to implement them all at once.

Probation passing

This covers working with hiring managers to understand whether new hires were a good fit and passed probation.

It’s not a completely foolproof metric to guarantee the quality of hire as there may be one-off situations that are not representative of candidate quality. 

It does, however, help you build an overall picture of your company’s hiring practices. If a lot of employees are not passing probation, either in a specific team or overall, this could be symptomatic of many things including:

  • A bad interview process
  • The need for a revamped onboarding process
  • Review of potentially inefficient management style.

Employee experience score at the start and after passing probation

(or 3-6 months if no probation).

This is a less talked about metric but something I have noticed can be quite indicative. Often, due to the excitement of a new job, the engagement scores of new employees can be slightly elevated.

I had a situation previously where there was a significant drop in employee engagement at the 3-month mark.

This is something I investigated by holding interviews with new starters and people 3 months into their jobs. Through that process, I realized that there was a misalignment in the way recruitment was talking about the company vs. the reality.

This prompted us to both retrain recruitment and launch an employer value proposition re-evaluation exercise with leadership.

It’s important to keep track of any difference as the first few months are crucial in how engaged or disappointed someone will be in their employment.

Many employee engagement tools (Peakon, Hibob, and CultureAmp) allow you to filter the results by tenure to check for any dips.

First year attrition

How many of your hires stay beyond a year is a potential indicator of the quality of the hire. You may also see it called retention rate, but I prefer to focus on the first year as a more appropriate timeframe for recruitment.

It’s quite a standard metric for companies to keep track of as an indicator of both hire quality and engagement. 

In my opinion, it’s something that you have to keep waiting to see or to action anything against, so, for smaller companies at least, I prefer the above two as it lets them be more agile and responsive.

Average Cost per hire

The cost per hire is all the expenditure around recruitment combined divided by the number of hires. Expenditure includes things like:

Internal costsExternal costs
Salaries of recruitment team + taxesAgency fees
Benefits and other costs (IT or software)Advertising costs/sourcing channel costs
Recruitment software
Testing platform/services
Events
Background check services
Internal vs external recruitment costs.

This is easier to calculate if you have a recruitment team budget tracker, so start with that first.

Sourcing channel costs

As alluded to earlier, these can really creep up. I once came into a situation where the previous leader had spent £80,000 in advertising and platform costs alone for 8 hires!

For a deeper look into one of the costs listed above, I divide all the platforms my team uses and keep track of the cost per month/year vs how many hires they have generated.

For example, if a platform is fairly expensive but hasn’t yielded a candidate that has even gone to an interview in a month, it’s likely time to review why that is.

The first step is to speak to your account manager at the platform (if there is one) and see if they can help. Otherwise, it may be time to look at alternatives as it is not yielding a return on investment.

With so many sourcing platforms out there, it’s easy for the costs to creep up. 

Sourcing channel effectiveness

This is a more in-depth look at sourcing channels. If they’re not getting hires, maybe take a look at where candidates are falling in the pipeline. 

This may be a bit tougher to measure, but once again the modern ATS should be able to report on how many people go through the process at different stages from each channel—including the ones who don’t apply.

This is important, because it may help you identify which sourcing channels are most effective so you can double down your efforts there.

Sourcing ChannelCV ScreenRecruiter Screen1st InterviewTestFinal InterviewOffer
LinkedIn outreach80%75%60%40%25%10%
Platform 120%10%5%0%0%0%
Social Media40%10%8%2%0%0%
Platform 220%15%12%5%0%0%
Referrals60%50%50%40%25%25%
Job site applicants8%5%5%4%3%1%
Sourcing channel effectiveness table.

The above example shows that LinkedIn outreach and Referrals seem to be the most effective sources.

Hiring manager feedback

Many of the metrics I’ve covered have been quantitative, but it’s important to engage with hiring managers on a qualitative basis. We’re in a people profession after all!

I like running regular retrospectives with hiring managers e.g. after we’ve done a massive push for hiring with a specific team or after 6 months of regular hiring activities. 

This is a great space for both parties to say what worked well and what didn’t. Below is a simple retro template I use:

MadSadGlad
Hiring Team
Talent Team
Hiring manager feedback table.

Application completion rate

Modern ATS can give you the data on how many people clicked through to the job and how many completed their applications.

A high drop-off rate could indicate low engagement with your brand, the need for improvement in your job description, or an overly complex application process.

Ideally, this should be coupled with the Candidate NPS above.

Test completion rate

Similar to the application rate above, the test completion rate may tell you if the test is irrelevant or too onerous for candidates.

In tech circles, testing has been getting a bad rap recently because sometimes they’re seen as too artificial or irrelevant to the role.

If your test completion rate is low, assess the content of the test you are sending out as top talent will recognise irrelevant tests immediately.

Employee Referrals

Getting a good number of quality referrals is a great indicator that employees are engaged and want great people to come in and work alongside them.

However, either too low or too high a number of referrals can create issues.

Too low may be something to investigate with teams. For example, if current engineers are not referring anyone to come and work with them, why is that?

If there are too many referrals but the majority aren’t right, are your referral incentives too high?

One thing I like to do with referrals is to ask “Who’s voice are we not hearing from in your team and how can you help us with that?”.

This encourages people to think about getting a diverse pool of referrals so that their team can be better rounded.

Days to a job offer

Again, this is something that can help you get candidates that are on the market quicker and can help identify snags in the internal process.

Days to a job offer is the metric of how long it takes you to make the offer to the candidate from the time you’ve identified that you’d like to hire them.

Ideally, this time should not be more than 72hrs in today’s market. If it’s often longer, it may be time to look at what is holding things up—is it the approval process, the admin, or something else?

Candidate withdrawal/rejection reasons

Once again in the ATS, whenever you are rejecting a person or removing them from the candidate pool, you can add a reason which you can then filter in the reports.

It’s important to see if there are patterns emerging in situations where candidates have rejected your role or offer. 

I’ve had situations where, through this metric, I’ve discovered that our salaries were way too low for the market or the hiring manager was undermining the hiring process in some way. 

Whatever the issue, look for patterns as one person rejecting an offer for being too low is not enough. A few more are needed to establish a pattern.

Metrics Tell You A Story

Modern recruiting software can help you streamline gathering and presenting data and even generate a dashboard for you.

However, the important thing is being able to identify the story the data is telling and how to adjust your recruitment strategy accordingly.

To give you an idea, I once had a situation where I was helping the Head of Sourcing at Twitch asses her team’s performance, which was showing only 80% attainment of the recruiter screen KPI.

However, when we looked deeper, we realized that the hiring ratio had actually increased slightly and we were on track for placements.

This means we were still producing the right candidates with fewer calls and therefore were a more efficient team.

By looking at the wider data, we could see the bigger picture rather than drive the team harder to just reach an arbitrary number.

Choosing the right metrics will allow you to make data-driven decisions that are right for your organisation. Not all of them will be relevant for all companies at all times and you don’t want to end up in data paralysis!

Most importantly, once you choose what is right for you, look at a few of them to draw the right picture so you are not constantly chasing outliers.

Join The People Managing People Community

For further support with your recruitment efforts, join our supportive community of HR and business leaders sharing knowledge and best practices to help you grow in your career and make greater impact in your organizaiton.

By Mariya Hristova

Mariya is a talent acquisition professional turned HR leader with experience in large corporates and start-ups. She has 10+ years of experience recruiting all over the world across many different industries, specialising in market entries, expansion, or scaling projects. She is of the firm belief that great candidate and empoyee experiences are not just a luxury, but a must. Currently she is the People Lead at Focaldata.