Hiring a clinical research manager is a challenge for even the most skilled and committed hiring manager. The clinical research manager is responsible for organizing and administering clinical research and will likely be involved in some capacity in the hiring of research associates and technicians who will carry out the day-to-day steps of a clinical research trial.

Educational requirements for a clinical research manager may vary depending on the job candidate’s experience level and the type of research the manager will be overseeing. Often, this person must have a combination of a bachelor’s degree and many years of relevant experience, an advanced academic degree, and/or a medical degree.

But whatever the particular credentials you’re looking for in a clinical research manager, you should also search for someone with the following seven essential skills.

1. A Keen Understanding of Research Design

Even if a job candidate has worked in clinical trials, an understanding of day-to-day research tasks is not enough to be a clinical research manager. The clinical research manager must also understand how trials are designed, how to draw up experimental protocols, how data is to be gathered, and how trial data will be stored and analyzed.

2. Strong Knowledge of Safety and Ethics

Clinical trials require a thorough grounding in medical research ethics and safety considerations. A solid understanding of the care of patients enrolled in a trial and protection of those patients is absolutely essential. The ability to ensure that enrolled patients understand what is expected of them and what their rights are is also crucial.

3. An Understanding of How Drugs Make It to Market

A clinical research manager should understand the often complicated process of how a drug (or medical device) goes from concept to market. This means understanding how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration works, what different phases of clinical trials are for, and how to follow all regulations that apply to clinical research.

4. Knowledge of Required Steps in Clinical Trials

BlocksIn addition to having an overarching understanding of how clinical trials work and what is required by regulatory agencies, the clinical research manager should have a thorough understanding of the hands-on tasks involved in the clinical trial. They must know what research team members are responsible for and supervise all processes for quality control purposes.

5. The Ability to Coordinate Site Management With Research Activities

If a clinical trial takes place at a specific clinic or hospital, the clinical research manager has to know how to coordinate the activities of the clinical trial with the other things that happen at the facility, such as what time nursing shifts change, relevant dietary restrictions, and how other patient care activities affect accomplishment of clinical trial goals.

6. A Strong Understand of Data Acquisition and Management

Today’s clinical trial manager must understand how data is acquired, where and how data is entered into analytics programs and databases, how to keep data secure, and how data will be managed and analyzed. The clinical research manager oversees who has access to clinical data and must understand the often complex analytics data is subject to.

7. Outstanding Interpersonal Skills

Technical, organizational, and clinical skills are essential, but so are great interpersonal skills. These so-called soft skills include things like effective communication, professionalism, and dedicated leadership, and they are no less important to the effective completion of clinical trials than technical skills are. Breakthrough insights don’t mean much if they’re not communicated effectively.

It’s Not Easy

Even the most skilled and conscientious hiring manager can face major challenges when it comes to hiring a clinical research manager. Which combination of credentials, skills, and experience is the right one for the job?

For the hiring manager, a specialty recruiter can turn the clinical research manager hiring process from a painstaking, drawn out ordeal into something faster, more thorough, and more satisfying. After all, a top pharmaceutical recruiter knows their reputation depends on delivering not just any job candidates, but only those who are fully qualified and genuinely interested in the opportunity.

A version of this post originally appeared at

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