In the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) serve as the link between companies and the broader medical community. Beyond their scientific expertise, their ability to communicate complex information clearly to a range of stakeholders is paramount. So, how can you ensure you’re recruiting MSLs who are not just knowledgeable, but also exceptional communicators? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Understand the Importance of Communication for MSLs

Before diving into recruitment strategies, it’s essential to grasp why communication is so vital for MSLs. Their role involves:

  • Engaging with key opinion leaders (KOLs).
  • Presenting scientific data to non-experts.
  • Collaborating with internal teams from clinical development to marketing.
  • Gathering and conveying feedback from the medical community.

1. Emphasize Communication in Job Listings

When crafting job descriptions:

  • Highlight the importance of communication skills.
  • Specify that candidates must be able to present to diverse audiences, from scientists to sales and marketing teams.
  • Mention any regular presentation or training responsibilities.

2. Incorporate Communication Assessments in the Interview Process

Consider:

  • Role-playing exercises where candidates must explain complex topics to interviewers acting as different stakeholders.
  • Asking candidates to prepare and deliver a short presentation on a given topic.
  • Behavioral interview questions that explore past experiences in communicating complex information.

3. Value Diverse Experiences

Candidates who have experience in roles that require extensive communication, such as teaching or public speaking, may bring valuable skills, even if those roles were outside the pharmaceutical sector.

4. Offer Communication Training and Development

Promote a culture of continuous learning:

  • Provide regular training sessions on effective communication.
  • Offer opportunities for MSLs to attend workshops on public speaking or scientific communication.
  • Encourage peer feedback sessions after presentations.

5. Showcase Opportunities for Engagement

Top MSL candidates will be attracted to roles that allow them to engage with a variety of stakeholders:

  • Highlight opportunities to present at conferences.
  • Mention collaborations with marketing or patient advocacy groups.
  • Discuss the role of MSLs in gathering and conveying feedback.

6. Promote a Collaborative Culture

MSLs need to communicate effectively not just externally, but also within the company:

  • Emphasize a team-oriented culture where cross-functional collaboration is the norm.
  • Highlight success stories where MSLs’ communication made a difference in product development or marketing strategies.

7. Seek Recommendations Focused on Communication

When checking references or recommendations:

  • Specifically ask about the candidate’s communication skills.
  • Inquire about their ability to engage with diverse audiences and convey complex information.

8. Engage with Communication-focused Professional Groups

Consider:

  • Attending events or workshops focused on scientific communication.
  • Engaging with professional groups dedicated to science communication to tap into a pool of professionals who prioritize this skill.

9. Feedback and Continuous Improvement

After hiring:

  • Seek feedback from new MSLs about their onboarding experience.
  • Regularly check in about their communication challenges and needs.
  • Use this feedback to refine both your hiring strategy and ongoing training programs.

Conclusion

For MSLs, the ability to communicate complex scientific information clearly is as crucial as the knowledge itself. By partnering with PharmacoTalent and PharmAccelerator, you can ensure your teams are not just knowledgeable, but also effective ambassadors for your organization.