Everything you don´t learn in the lab

Hire only the best: de-bias your workplace

Topic area
(Self-) management

Online or in-house talk

Philipp Gramlich 

Target group
Postdocs and group leaders


When selecting staff, we want to hire only the best, but our biases hamper us in this process. How can we de-bias our workplace?

Hiring staff is one of the most crucial processes in scientists’ careers, yet we’re often remarkably ‘un-scientific’ when conducting them. Usually, first impressions and other superficialities take over our minds as we try to select the best candidates for a position. We end up hiring clones of ourselves.

In this talk, we’ll look at the many pitfalls we’re facing when hiring staff, most of which are confirmation biases: we’re prone to try to confirm our initial snap judgments formed during the superficial first impression. How can we devise a process that will focus our minds on relevant information, how can we look behind facades and how can we critically question our judgments?

This talk is not only relevant for hiring managers. Biases screw up a whole number of work processes, just think of the interpretation of data (“Oh dear, how I’d love to see a peak here…”)! We take the hiring process as a case study, but we can also apply many take-homes to other work settings.

Do you want to read more about the exciting topic of biases and how they can be overcome before enjoying this talk?

This talk has an inherently strong gender and diversity component as it’s focused on biases during a process that often reinforces stereotypes and inequalities.

The best book we know about this topic is What works by Iris Bohnet.

A very well-substantiated (German) book on the topic, specifically in an academic setting, is Personalauswahl in der Wissenschaft.

This talk covers one of the topics of our workshop Leadership skills: How to row the boat. We offer a dedicated workshop on the topic: Staff selection, biases and stereotypes.  Another workshop that has an inherent relevance for gender and diversity of Negotiation

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