Recruiting metrics ABCs: Your ultimate list of the recruiting metrics that matter

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5 mins, 5 secs read time

Recruiting is about so much more than reviewing resumes and making a hire. It has transformed into an intricate process requiring innovative strategies for attracting and keeping the best talent. And if you want to find data-driven ways to optimize your process, you need to start by measuring the right recruiting metrics. This will give you the insights you need to evaluate the effectiveness of your entire process.

Remembering definitions and formulas isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so we’re here to make things a little sweeter. Here we’ve compiled the ultimate list of recruiting metrics that today’s Talent pros are tracking to win at hiring.

Application completion rates

Definition: This is the percentage of applicants who start, complete and submit an application for an open role.

Why it’s important: Improving this metric can help give you access to the best talent. Top candidates know they have options and they won’t deal with your unintuitive application page or an unnecessarily lengthy format. Thankfully, this is one of the easiest metrics to improve. Find what’s turning people off about your user experience and fix it.

Applicants per hire

Definition: Applicants per hire, also known as applicants per opening, is the number of people who have applied to a role.

Why it’s important: This gauges the overall popularity of your job post. Which jobs are Beyoncé compared to the rest? If you’re receiving a high number of applicants but aren’t finding your shining star, you may need to adjust your job description as it may be too broad. Then you can ensure that you’re attracting candidates of quality rather than quantity.

Candidate experience

Definition: Candidate experience is the way that candidates perceive your organization throughout the recruiting process.

Why it’s important: You want to know what candidates think of your hiring process because you’re always working to provide the best experience possible. In these days of Glassdoor reviews, you can’t afford to offer one that’s anything less than memorable and unique. You can easily track your Net Promoter Score to measure candidate experience by sending out post-interview surveys.

Cost per hire

Definition: Cost per hire is the average amount of budget allocated toward making a single hire.

Calculation: (Total recruitment cost / total number of hires)

Why it’s important:
This is key to assessing the cost effectiveness and efficiency of your recruiting process. It can help you figure out where you can cut costs – or where you can splurge a little on an exceptional candidate. There’s a lot to consider when calculating your cost per hire, so we broke it all down for you.

Offer acceptance rate

Definition: Did the candidate “say yes to the dress?” The offer acceptance rate is the percentage of extended offers that are accepted.

Calculation: (Number of offer acceptances / Number of offers)

Why it’s important:
This allows you to see how successful your team is at bringing a candidate on board. As much as you’d love to think that all candidates would jump at an offer after going through your entire hiring process, that’s not reality. A low acceptance rate may be attributed to compensation issues or slow offer times.

Quality of hire

Definition: Quality of hire is measured by a hire’s performance in their first year. It can be a little tricky to calculate, so check out this great formula provided by SHRM.

Why it’s important: “Quality over quantity” is a timeless phrase – and almost always the best way to go. You’ll want to track this metric to see if the hires you’re making are the right ones. Is your hire making meaningful contributions to your organization? Eventually you can also measure Employee Lifetime Value (ELTV), which is the value that an employee brings to your organization over time.


Definition: Retention rate tracks the total number of employees who stay with your organization over a certain time frame.

Calculation: [(Total Employees Still Employed at End of Period / Total Employees at Start of Period) x 100]

Why it’s important:
What’s the point in devoting your time and energy to making the right hire if they’re not going to stay? If employees are jumping ship faster than you anticipated, you can use this analysis to identify the reason so you can improve. How is your workplace culture? Are people compensated fairly? How successful are your inclusion efforts? These are all common factors in an employee’s decision to go or stay.

Source of hire

Definition: This metric shows you where your candidates are coming from, such as internal job boards, career pages, referrals or social media.

Calculation: (Number of hires / number of hires from a particular source)

Why it’s important:
This is crucial for assessing the effectiveness of specific sourcing channels. It’s also important for measuring your diversity sourcing efforts. Are candidates you’ve sourced from underrepresented groups getting hired? If not, where is the drop-off happening? If candidates from those sources are applying for but not landing the role after an interview, you can identify if unconscious bias is a factor and deal with it.

Time to fill

Definition: Time to fill is the amount of time it takes to find and hire a new candidate. It’s often measured from the day the job post is published to the day a candidate is hired.

Why it’s important: Tracking time to fill is a great way to get a holistic view of how efficient your recruitment strategy is. Think about whether recruiters are reaching out to qualified applicants in a timely manner. Candidates want transparency and speedy communication in the recruiting process and in today’s war for talent, there isn’t any time to lose.

Tracking the right recruiting metrics is no longer an option if you’re a Talent leader striving to build out the best team. It allows you to identify key areas of improvement and make smart changes that will make your organization a top contender for stellar candidates. Although dealing with data can be challenging, we hope this guide made it as easy as A-B-C.

Micah Gebreyes

Micah Gebreyes

is a Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Greenhouse where she develops and leads the content strategy for Greenhouse blogs, social media and thought leadership newsletter, Modern Recruiter. When she's not working to bring the brand story to life, she enjoys spending time with her Pomeranian, Cashew. Keep the conversation growing with Micah on LinkedIn or through the Greenhouse LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.