Technology’s Role in Improving Time-to-Fill

In an organization with thousands of employees, maintaining a healthy pipeline of well-qualified candidates can be daunting.

Further, many organizations require that new hires complete several weeks of training before they interact with customers. Therefore, it is critical to predict hiring needs and find ways to streamline the process to minimize this unproductive window. Implementing technology is one tactic companies are using to reduce time-to-hire.

Forecast the need, before it’s needed. Customer service-oriented companies are often accustomed to forecasting anticipated workload to schedule the right number and right kind of employees to achieve desired customer service levels. This is essentially balancing supply and demand. Too few employees scheduled means customers are left waiting, service suffers, but labor costs are minimized. Conversely, too many employees means customer service is excellent, but labor costs may be higher than necessary.

These same principles apply to attrition. For instance, a commercial call center may handle tens of thousands of calls per day, but might need to fill only a few vacant positions at any one time.

One common and effective way to forecast attrition is to look to the past to plan the future. By collecting and analyzing turnover data as far back as possible, attrition patterns will emerge that help identify future labor needs. This works better for positions that span many employees; executive and mid-level management positions would probably not benefit from this approach given the relatively small number of new employees who need to be hired regularly. But positions with relatively large numbers of employees, especially those with lengthy training or ramp-up programs, would.

Factor in time-to-fill and training lead times. Forecasting hiring needs is only half the battle. Working backward from the anticipated need date, one must factor in time-to-fill intervals, which can be lengthy for many positions, as well as the normal training interval. For instance, if the training interval is six weeks and the average time to fill is two weeks, positions need to be advertised and active recruiting started approximately two months in advance of the anticipated need. Many organizations are unable to plan that far in advance, if at all, resulting in a just-in-time hiring approach where new employees are recruited only when existing ones leave. This leaves productivity and proficiency gaps as new employees struggle to get up to speed, which can exacerbate attrition.

Optimize hiring strategies. Technology can help streamline the recruiting process, reduce recruiting lead time and minimize impact on an organization and its customers. Using online virtual interviewing technology in place of traditional recruiter-led, early-stage telephone interviews can reduce the recruiting interval from weeks to days. Using virtual interviewing also can reach more potential candidates than can be interviewed using traditional methods.

Using interview results to collect individual candidate capabilities and proficiencies also can shorten the training lead time. For example, while every new employee might need indoctrination regarding an organization’s culture, values, tools and so on, applicants who demonstrate proficiency in selling might not need extensive sales training and can bypass that part of the program. The results are better-qualified candidates, hired faster, who are productive quicker.

Forecasting and technology result in an optimum hiring strategy. Forecasting attrition helps the recruiting organization better serve its stakeholders by planning hiring in advance of need and delivering skilled, qualified employees when they are required. Organizations can build their bench strength and, over time, become adept at throttling their hiring up and down to meet anticipated needs. Coupled with technology to shorten the overall time-to-fill interval, companies can hire better candidates faster and preserve valuable customer relationships.

Kevin Hegebarth is vice president of marketing and product management for virtual interviewing company HireIQ Solutions Inc. He can be reached at