A quick online search of ‘how to ace your next interview’ will give you a lot of great suggestions and strategies on how to increase your chances of landing your dream position in your medical science liaison (MSL) job interview. But for an MSL role, getting the job isn’t easy. Data from the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) has shown that for every MSL opening there are an average of 250 applicants. Becoming an MSL has grown increasingly competitive. So how do you ace your next MSL interview and stand out?
“Tell me about yourself”
Perhaps the most important question you will get asked is “Tell me about yourself.” The hiring manager isn’t looking for a historical breakdown of your career. This is the mistake that many MSL candidates make. In reality, it’s an opportunity to sell yourself upfront and demonstrate your ability to articulate yourself effectively. After all, great MSLs are great communicators. They can tell a story, they can build relationships and they can breakdown complex ideas. So, how do you answer this question? We have provided two examples below based on experience (no experience vs. experienced MSL candidate).
Sample Response – “Tell Me about yourself” in an MSL Job Interview
MSL Candidate- No Experience
“First, I want to thank you for having me, it’s an exciting time at (Company X). I recently saw (Company X’s) press release on new data presented at (recent major medical meeting) and it looks promising. I am a (insert degree–PhD, MD, PharmD, NP, etc.) by training and have been in clinical research for the last x# years focused on (insert what you’ve focused on) and I’ve been able to build strong relationships within this community.
I believe many of the skills I acquired as a clinical researcher have given me a strong foundation for this particular MSL role. Namely, building a strong network within the medical community, being able to convey complex ideas to a wide variety of audiences, and building strong business acumen, as I follow industry trends routinely.
I’ve also recently completed a (insert any additional credentials you completed such as a certification like BCMAS or additional coursework or seminars). I am excited to be here and learn more about the role.”
MSL Candidate – With Experience
“Thanks again for having me, it’s an exciting time at (Company X), I recently saw (Company X’s) press release on new data presented at (a recent major medical meeting) and the data was trending in the right direction (you can also focus on another aspect, such as a recent launch, expansion, change in executive leadership, etc.-Do your research beforehand). So, by training, I’m a (insert degree), with x# years of MSL experience primarily focused in the (insert disease state, ie., oncology, cardiology, neurology, etc.) space.
I’ve built a strong relationship network with many of the leading External Experts (EE) (most may still call them key opinion leaders (KOLs) in (that particular therapeutic area). For example, I saw that (insert KOL name) was on a recent article published in JAMA where your compound was studied, I know (him/her) very well and we recently met at (insert particular medical meeting/conference, etc..).
I’ve been fortunate enough to use my relationship building skills over the years and have a strong network of KOLs in (insert particular therapeutic area). I would be able to hit the ground running fairly quickly. I have excellent presentation skills and am passionate about this particular therapeutic area and believe that (insert product/compound) has tremendous potential based on the recent data I’ve seen. I’m excited to be here and look forward to hearing more about the role.”
There are 3 primary point you want to get across in your MSL job interview.
1. You can build relationships.
2. You’ve done your research about the company/product(s).
3. You have the skills needed (communication/presentation, gone above and beyond, for example, become a BCMAS, etc).
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