Metrics? KPIs? Ratios? This is the ONLY one that matters in recruitment.

You have a lot of things to do in your job. Am I right?

You are super-busy all the time. Candidates to interview. Resumes to prepare. References to take. Sales calls to make. Visits to go on. Calls to return. Admin to tie up. Your company also has a raft of KPI’s and activities they want you to meet. It never ends.

And it’s all so important

But bring it in tight everyone. There is only one thing you need to measure when it comes to being a perm or search recruiter.

The golden metric.

How many of your candidates are sitting opposite your clients.

That is it.

‘Client Candidate Interviews’, or CCIs as I call them

Yes, our ultimate goal is placements. And the happy clients, happy talent and happy us that will result from lots of placements. But placements are the outcome. We don’t make the job offer. So we can’t control the outcome.

We need to focus on the activity that leads to the outcome

What is the one thing that must happen for a talent to be hired?

They get interviewed!

Everything else you do in this job either leads up to that happy moment, or supports the outcome of that event.

(Of course quality counts too. You have to take qualified job spec and find great talent and make a great match. But that’s a given, right?)

The reality is that if you arrange for one candidate to sit opposite one client in one week, you can by definition make… one placement! And only then if all the recruiting Gods are smiling on you.

But if you get three interviews on different jobs you could get three placements. Or three interviews on the same job, exponentially increases your chances of one placement. And if you get 15 candidates sitting in interviews…

The point is you got to make lots and lots of interviews! So obvious I know. Yet I often hear what a great week a recruiter had, and when I dig a little… busy, busy, busy… but no CCIs!

It’s in the CCI that the magic happens!

So you have had a ‘busy’ week. Go, go, go. You are so tired. So satisfied you have given it your all.

Ask yourself as you open that first beer Friday at 6 pm.

“How many of my candidates are sitting down opposite my clients as a result of what I did this week?”




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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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25 Responses to Metrics? KPIs? Ratios? This is the ONLY one that matters in recruitment.

  1. Karen Arvidsson February 21, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    100% correct. The first thing I learned in recruitment 20+ years ago was interviews = placements. Plus, importantly interviews fulfill candidate expectations + client expectations. No matter how elegant the rest of your efforts are (and they must be) nothing fulfills their ultimate need more than getting f2f. It is so easy to become buried under tasks that the ‘send out’ rate drops. Yet so easy to see the placement stats drop in the weeks following if this happens.

  2. Graham Winder February 21, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    In my recruitment days, it didn’t stop at the interview either. Its also prepping and coaching your candidates to improve your Interview to Offer to Placement ratio. How many recruiters don’t get their candidates to ‘close’? Even some talented sales people don’t close an interview. Rule number 1 in my book. In addition to closing is following up. If you’re a sales person, it’s your job! I spoke to a very experienced FMCG friend of a friend who asked my advice on what to do following an interview direct with a big FMCG brand and I couldn’t believe she didn’t a, close and more importantly send an email thanking them for their time and re-emphasising their interest. So whilst I agree Interview count, you CAN influence the outcome by coaching candidates through the process.

    • Greg Savage February 21, 2012 at 11:20 am #

      Totally agree Graham. What you refer to is the CRAFT of recruiting. The influencing, coaching and selling part of the role that does make all the difference. However the “coaching ” you refer to is not so much a metric as a skill. My piece was just focused on the “hard” evidence of a measurable metric. That is never enough of course. Numbers wont do it alone. The combination is required. BUT…if you don’t have the interviews …nothing else will do it for you

      • Garry Olive August 10, 2015 at 1:22 am #

        Greg- What are your thoughts about Time To Hire. I get asked about this in interviews. Most companies use a 30 day TTH but it’s almost pointless since most orders I get are asking for candidates yesterday it seems.

        Your CCI ratio seems to be a more accurate measure of recruiter activity and efficiency.

  3. GB February 21, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    As you have so rightly noted Greg, our job is to simply facilitate introductions between motivated candidates and clients that would not otherwise have taken place. When you do enough of that the results will follow. Fact!

  4. Doug Flatimus February 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    You are clearly a succesful recruiter Greg, and this is good basic advice, along the lines of ‘you only makes sales if you make lots of sales calls, therefore the measurable is in the number of sales calls’.

    May I also argue that the key metric that equals dollars in th bank, is the number of candidates who are hired as a result of Client Candidate Interviews? A ratio that should close to 3:1 or even 3:2?

    The number of interviews booked in when I began recruiting sales reps was very high, sometimes 2-3 a day. The conversion rate was very low, maybe 10:1 or worse, and I didn’t have the respect of my clients. I was just another recruiter throwing candidates at them.

    Oh, the CVs always satisfied the client brief technically, but I loved all my candidates then: the good, the bad and the ugly, and I was easy to convince, so they all went in to the pool. It took me three months to work out that the number of candidates interviewed is only the beginning. I knew that because I couldn’t pay the rent on my flat.

    So I started getting very picky. I started exploring my clients’ cultures, looked harder at their successful people and picked up on certain themes, relating to energy, emotional maturity, sense of fun, and hard core performance record. And Primary Motivation.

    Then I realised I was getting a reputation for being good at knowing who NOT to put in front of my clients. My clients now know that if I present someone, even if they are a ‘no’, they will always have been a worthwhile 1-2 hour investment of their time.

    But I don’t disagree, Greg, and I get your message. When I hire consultants, though, I hire on their ability to understand that conversion ratio, ’cause that’s the one that puts money in the bank.

    Love your work, and thanks for your many valuable thought-provoking ideas!

    • Greg Savage February 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      Totally agree Doug
      The next metric to consider is CCIs/Placements. And prior to that we look at Referrals /CCIs
      Quality and matching are key
      I hinted at that in the blog (see below) but I wanted to make a simple point. “No interviews=no placements”

      Thanks for your insights
      (Of course quality counts too. You have to take qualified job spec and find great talent and make a great match. But that’s a given, right?)

  5. Bart February 21, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Great post Greg. Distilled the essence of the job perfectly.

  6. Eddie George February 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    A colleague of mine always forwards me your new blogs on and I always end up reading them…

    Anyway the best recruitment advice I ever got was “If you throw enough poo at the wall, some of it will stick”.

    Personally I dislike doing recruitment for a living and find myself trapped in a well paid though ultimately monotonous and dull profession. All the recruiters with a firm handshake and who wear pin-stripe suits and ties with large knots in them will surely disagree and continue to dress up this job as some kind of science…

    • Greg Savage February 21, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      Thanks Eddie

      I found your comment both very sincere and very sad
      If you really hate your job, whatever it is, you need to change it
      Best wishes

    • ivan September 6, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

      That was the best advice you got in Recruitment???
      My teams best advice, which they have carried wth them for over a decade, was know your client, know your industry and success will come. NEVER throw a cv at a client unless you know the candidate will be right.

      I pride myself that several of my team became trusted advisors to some of their clients and arranged interviews without having sent a cv. Something I still do today with my core group of clients.

      Throwing crap at the wall ultimatley ends up with you having stinky hands….

  7. Eddie George February 22, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    In these austere and challenging times Greg it is very hard to change what you do.

    • Greg Savage February 22, 2012 at 5:51 am #

      That is very true Eddie. Hope things improve , regards Greg

  8. Alan Allebone February 22, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    I am a little disappointed to read Eddie’s comments about throwing enough poo at the wall ………. etc etc.
    Have we not, as professional recruiters got a reputation to maintain? is this comment made by Eddie too flippant?
    Surely the reputation of the company you work for and the reputation of the consultant is on the line here and just sending candidates CV’s to the client hoping some will be okay and stick is not the way I would like to operate.

    Eddie it would be nice to know what area you work in, is it recruitment?

    I recall my very first boss in London whilst training me said that it is quality rather than quantity and 36 years on he was right and it is still working. I much prefer 3 good quality candidates than a dozen or so ordinary candidates!

    Chin up Eddie and good luck for the future! Hope things turn around for you.

    If you are not in recruitment why not give it a go if you have not done so yet?

    I tried it 36 years ago and like it that is why I am still here.

    Another good one Greg!


  9. Elias February 22, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    If you throw enough poo at the wall, some WILL stick! That’s why recruiters keep throwing poo! But if we listen to enough clients, they get tired of sifting through all that poo..ahem, resumes, to find the candidates they want. The key is to match the quality with the sense of urgency and speed. I agree that interviews are a key metric, but without submittals, there are no interviews. I would argue that all metrics, from candidates screened, to candidates placed, need to be measured, and the true key is the combination of the raw number itself and the ratio, as Doug pointed out. I like to measure all the ratios: screened to submittals, submittals to interviews, interviews to placements, etc. Each step of the process represents an area where improvement can be made, and that’s the key to dollars in the bank.

  10. Claire February 22, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    another great article Greg, thank you!

  11. Matt March 2, 2012 at 6:39 am #

    A very good article here Greg. Currently there is so much noise from clients and the industry about social media recruiting, but fundamentally does spending 20 minutes tweeting, 20 minutes on Facebook trying to engage a small candidate pool work?

    In the current market (as in any market) is about sending quality CVs that your clients will want to interview. By sending 20 quality CV’s a week you would hope to be getting interviews for 10 of them and then you can only do so much hand holding and cajoling but some of them will result in placements.

    I was always told that don’t get too up when things are good and don’t get too down when things are not. Just keep the same consistency and your luck (and there is a large element of lucK whatever people say) will even itself out.

  12. Doug Flatimus March 6, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    I’m afraid Greg is being very polite Eddie George.

    1. You are the only one who can change your situation. The economic environment has nothing to do with it.

    2. “In these austere times” are usually bad times for recruiters. Just ask the thousands of UK recruiters who got on the plane in Aus and flew back to the UK in 2008-09.

    3. I love what I do. I’m well-educated and good at it; as Australia tightened up I expanded my business into SE Asia and China to offset the recessionary environment and what I found here (in Shanghai today) is intellectually and emotionally challenging. Recruitment is art and science, not one or the other.

    4. I wear a fat-knot tie only for my new clients and I have great relationships with my existing clients. I chose to work only with clients I liked and with whom I share values a long time ago, and while it has cost me money sometimes, the upside means never having regrets, or working in frustrating environments.

    Recruitment is the one game within which you contribute and control your own environment and destiny. After a few years, the quality of your professional life in recruitment is a reflection of you.

    Monotonous and dull?

  13. Scott Thompson April 2, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    John Wooden (UCLA basketball coaching legend): “Don’t confuse activity for achievement”.

    This post cuts to the heart of the matter. The number of “sendouts” (the word we use) is the ONLY metric that matters to the business. Everything we do supports maximizing this metric. It’s the very limit of what we can control.

    Excellent, Greg!

  14. medicalplaces May 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    Thanks for keeping it simple, Greg!

  15. Peter Udall November 5, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    Hi Greg,

    You are on the money (literally), as always! I’ll share the ‘least measured’ KPI with you. It’s something that I review from time to time and it often catches Consultants by surprise, for reasons different to those they expect.

    It is… expenses.

    When I bring up the subject, 99% of the time it’s not because they are too high, breach spending guidelines or because Consultants are meeting the wrong people.

    Assuming all of these are in order, they just aren’t spending enough.

    Formal meetings are important and generally ‘free’, except for travel costs. The coffee, the lunch, the drink after work all appear on expenses and they (to me at least) are a relationship metric. The higher the metric, “the more they should know the people they should know”.



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