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Six steps to speedy time to fill without sacrificing quality

In the frenzied scramble for talent, ‘Time to Fill’ or equivalent speed-based hiring metrics, has taken center stage. Often understaffed and under pressure, we are racing to fill positions and refill positions just to keep our organizations from falling too far behind.

And yet, to truly add value to our organization, we must meet this speedy challenge without sacrificing quality of hires (otherwise, they will just add to our refill count in a few months) or breaking the budget.

So how do we decrease Time to Fill without being reduced to throwing money at anyone with a pulse?

Good question!

Here are 6 ways to speed hiring while maintaining quality and managing budget.

1. Know the needs, drop the wants

In this market, there’s no time for unicorn chases or running in circles after purple squirrels. Avoid this time sink by removing any unnecessary barriers to qualifications. In other words, make sure that the job requirements are truly required.

Identify the true needs for the job – those requirements that a future employee must meet to be successful. Those must remain as requirements for the job.

Identify the wants – those requirements that are not necessary for success, especially on day one. Consider removing and/or modifying the wants. The more you can remove or modify to increase how many candidates are qualified for the job, the more options you have to hire.

Identify the habits and proxies – those requirements that are there because they’ve always been there, or that are shortcuts for the thing you actually need. Remove the habits and modify the proxies to focus on the need rather than the shortcut.

For example:

Requirement: “Must have a at least 10 year’s experience in XYZ”.

Type: proxy (What is valuable about that experience? What happens if they only have 9 years?)

Need: Proven ability to execute xyz task or success at abc task… etc.

2. Budget for candidate flow

‘If you build it, they will come’ is great for a feel-good baseball movie, but it doesn’t usually work for hiring. Getting the job in front of enough potential candidates to build a candidate pool will take time or money or both. Budget accordingly and realistically.

With a realistic budget (that is used, not stored in the metaphoric mattress), you won’t waste your time failing first while your competition sucks up the candidate pool.

To establish a budget:

Find the potential pool – what pool you need access to and how they must be engaged. Know if you have candidates actively looking in the right region at the right price point. If the candidates aren’t there, you have to get them. If the candidate pool does exist, find where they are going to find jobs.

For example: consider techniques such as targeting passive candidates, relocation, signing bonuses or other incentives, salary increases, visa sponsorship, etc.

Price access – what it costs to access the pool of candidates. Each job board, ad campaign, social media post, recruiter hour, relocation package, etc. all costs money. Estimate a realistic cost to access the pool of candidates you need to fill the job.

Tip: use a price structure that aligns to your organization’s budgeting decisions. For example, resource allocation, contract allocation (like using hours of a standing contract with a staffing organization), budget, etc.

Execute – use the budget to access candidates. It’s not enough to have a budget for a job, spend it. Yeah, you all know what I’m talking about.

3. Automate screening EQUITABLY

With the candidates flowing, it’s time to sift through the candidates to find those who are qualified vs. those who are not (like all those candidates that you are absolutely sure have no idea what job they just applied for based on how horribly unqualified they are for the position).

But, with the clock ticking and the recs mounting, who has time to sift through all that noise?

Don’t. Automate the screening so that you aren’t wasting a second with the unqualified and REALLY unqualified applications.

But, before switching on those keyword filters and AI-driven fancy uber filters, don’t sacrifice an equitable process for automation and speed. Not only is that detrimental to your organization, it’s also completely unnecessary. To make automatic screening equitable, empower the candidates not the computers.

Draft clear, measurable requirements – requirements with clear intent and defined scope of meeting it. Start with the list of needed requirements from step 1 and draft each one so candidates understand what the requirement is and if they meet it.

Create candidate-driven automated screening – allow candidates to identify if they meet requirements or not. Present candidates with the requirements so they can identify which requirements they meet and which they do not. Include automation such as the candidate screening platform, so that the candidates that identify as meeting the necessary requirements automatically progress forward or are tagged as high-priority candidates.

Note: Candidate-driven (vs. keyword or data-driven) screening is a critical step for equity. Candidates from different industries, backgrounds, socio-economic status, those without the ‘inside scoop’, etc. may not use the right keywords or stress the right skills to pass keyword or data-driven screening. However, they can more equitably self-identify if they qualify when the requirements are known.

Monitor the data – ensure the automated process is performing as intended. Automation does not mean ‘set and forget’. Monitor the data to find and fix any potential issues without wasting time leaking candidates. If a requirement is filtering out too many candidates, revisit to verify that the requirement is truly necessary.

4. Replace interviews with submissions

Rounds and rounds of interviews take a lot of time when everything is running smoothly. Add in the additional stakeholders who also want to evaluate the candidate and the calendar jenga to find time that works for everyone without toppling everything and… ‘time consuming’ is a best-case scenario.

Avoid wasting time (and candidate goodwill) by replacing endless rounds of interviews with a single set of submitted responses (written, audio, video, portfolio submission, etc.). Submitted responses allow candidates to answer questions just once at their own pace, and employers to have as many reviewers as they want, each reviewing content at their own convenience.

You don’t need to replace all interviews with submissions. Even using it as an additional screening step can save a ton of time.

Draft clear, measurable, relevant questions – questions/requests with clear intent, are relevant to the position, and have a defined set of good/bad answers.

Integrate into an automated system – create a seamless candidate and interviewer experience. If possible, automate this step through solutions like or some applicant tracking systems (i.e. no manual emails that have to be tracked and chased and lost). Automation will ensure the steps are followed, tracked, and recorded.

Monitor the data – ensure the automated process is performing as intended. As with screening, automation does not mean ‘set and forget’. Monitor the results to validate the questions are effective and the candidates and reviewers are enabled to succeed.

5. Don’t ghost

The best sourcing, screening, and evaluation hiring processes mean nothing if your candidates abandon because they feel abandoned. Don’t waste your time building and qualifying a candidate pool just to have it drip out the other end of the process.

Keep candidates informed on the progress of the job and their application through regular automated messaging. Include status, next steps, and timeframe.

6. Ditch the ‘plan-b’

“This candidate is great, but I want a few more options just in case there is someone better.”


In competitive talent markets, there is no ‘this candidate is a plan-b’. When you find someone that’s a good hire, hire them. Delays risk losing them and anyone else you may be holding onto, leaving you to start the whole process over.

Bonus tips:

Looking for more ways to drive out time from Time to Fill? Here’s a few more tips:

  • Schedule candidate reviews. Block small chunks of time on the calendar of the hiring team to review candidates. A little time every day or every other day keeps the process flowing without overwhelming anyone.

  • Use feedback. Between each hire or group of hires, take a few minutes to collect feedback from the hiring team and candidates to find ways to improve the process. Not only will that lead to process improvements, it also spreads ownership of the process which increases adoption.

  • Drive change through a center of excellence. New processes, such as adding automation, is not always adopted with open arms. Rather than forcing change on a large scale, start small. Using a center of excellence to work out the kinks and prove a concept will generate excitement and confidence while easing the pain of larger scale adoption.

Bringing it all together:

We all know ‘time is money’, but these days, ‘time is talent’. Don’t waste it.

Drive efficiency in your hiring process by defining what you need up front, automating screening steps EQUITABLY, and shedding any bad habits that lead to candidate attrition such as limited communications (ghosting) and waiting just in case someone better comes along.

You can do it, we can help. Career.Place is a turn-key candidate screening platform that combines candidate empowerment, automation, and data analytics to drive efficiency. Every step is designed for inclusion and equity so you get the right candidates fairly and quickly. Can be used on its own or integrated with your applicant tracking system to drive efficient, effective, equitable hiring.

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