High Volume Hiring
4 min read
October 25, 2022

The new way to hire: Defining quality in high-volume hiring.

You've probably read plenty of articles talking about the importance of speed-to-hire. While important, Tim Sackett argues employers should focus on quality of hire when it comes to business impact. Here's why.

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Quality of hire (QoH) is the holy grail of recruiting metrics. It’s something everyone says they want to measure or actually believe they are measuring, but almost no one gets it right! When I dig into an organization’s QoH measure, what I usually find is they are actually measuring the quality of an applicant, not a hire.

What’s the difference?

True QoH can only be measured by comparing the current hire you just made against a measure of quality. Usually, that is either the last person in the job or a composite of many people who do that job normally. Ask yourself: Is the person we hired doing the job better, the same, or worse than others that do this same job?

To truly measure the quality of hire, you need measures of performance, and you need time to accurately measure the performance of that employee. You can see where this is going, right? How can talent acquisition be measured against QoH when they don’t select the candidate, train the candidate, or measure their performance? You can’t! But almost every enterprise TA leader I meet thinks QoH is a TA measure. It’s not. It’s a hiring manager measure.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t measure QoH. We should. It’s a great measure to implement and show the trajectory of how talent is developing in your organization. Every organization is either getting better or worse. And of those two, you definitely want to be getting better.

What should we be measuring in talent acquisition in terms of quality and high-volume hiring?

Ideally, what we want to know in TA is if the service we are providing to our hiring managers is getting better, staying the same, or getting worse. That service is our ability to provide highly qualified candidates to our hiring managers to interview and select in a timely manner. 

Over the decades we have encouraged fairly awful behavior with our hiring managers. We’ve allowed this mentality of “can I see a few more?” This is our doing. We’ve let hiring managers believe there is an endless well of candidates at our disposal, and all they have to do is ask, and we’ll provide.

Today, and into the future, we know this isn’t true.

When it comes to high-volume hiring, being able to provide candidates at scale creates another very difficult-to-measure dilemma around quality. We aren’t necessarily talking about skill. Most high-volume hiring isn’t about hard skills but soft skills. Are the people who we are providing to our hiring managers ready to work, and do they have the ability to learn quickly and become productive?

Because of this, I think there are two measures in high-volume hiring that make sense:

  1. Quality of applicant
  2. Hiring velocity

Quality of applicant is simply the percentage of applicants we provide to a hiring manager that ended up interviewing — and if you’re feeling frisky, the percentage of those interviews that turned into hires.

Hiring velocity is also rather simple. It’s building a hiring timeline from the due date and working backward. “Okay, you need 10 hires. When do you need them?” Let’s say that date is January 1. Then you start walking backward across your process to determine what that will look like.

You might have one week of posting, advertising, and sourcing. Another week of interviewing. Another week of pre-boarding and onboarding. So, you are already at 21 days. This means if you start by December 10, you will have your 10 hires completed by January 1. I like hiring velocity way better than days to fill because of the planning and the hiring manager’s skin in the game. It’s setting a realistic goal for TA to achieve. Every single position has a unique hiring velocity, unlike days to fill, which has zero correlation to any kind of success in TA.

Quality is still important in talent acquisition.

Let’s be honest, most of this is just semantics. What I find is most organizations are calling a short-term turnover number QoH. Like, “oh, they stayed 90 days. That must be a good hire!” Again, zero correlation between someone staying 90 days and being a good hire. Although, some days, maybe it’s believable that someone who will keep showing up is a good hire!

I believe the way we demonstrate quality in TA is through the quality of the applicant. What should that number be? Well, if you’re a great, experienced recruiter and you have the trust of your hiring manager, 90% is the number. I could argue it should be 100%. — but I’ll give you one mistake. The reality is that every candidate we send to a hiring manager should be someone we want them to interview because we truly believe they fit the criteria.

If you have a quality of applicant measure of around 50%, there’s a problem. That means half of the people you’re finding and screening are being turned down by hiring managers. This is a ton of waste in your process and a waste of resources for your organization.

Having high quality in high-volume hiring has never been more important. How we measure it matters in TA to our ability to deliver a great, efficient, and valuable service to our hiring managers. But, let’s make sure we are measuring the quality of what we can control and not the quality of what we can’t.

The penultimate part of the series on the new way to treat candidates — not like customers — is here.

If you missed the previous part, the new way to automate with class is here.

Written by
Tim Sackett
CEO of, Senior Faculty Member of the Josh Bersin Academy
Tim Sackett
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