I applied for a position and was invited to an interview.

The position does appeal to me. However, after reading the ad again in detail, I see they expect the person to have a different profile than mine.

I didn't lie in my CV and I included quite detailed information on my previous positions as well as projects in it. I assume they did read my CV, so it's not clear to me why they invited me. It's a very competitive field and many candidates fulfill the conditions.

There are 3 main areas of responsibility the person will be working on. I know two of them, but nothing about the third one.

I tried to acquire the missing skills quickly but that's not really possible and I wouldn't like to waste a week or more preparing just for this one interview given the probability they'll not want a person without this experience.

How should I approach that during the interview ("sell it")? Should I be assertive about not having experience in one of the fields they expect experience in and stress expertise in other fields not mentioned in the ad? What are other options? Can I do anything to increase my chances of getting the job? I want it, but don't fulfill the conditions.

It's not an entry-level position. I fulfill the requirements concerning the length of experience, just not expertise in one of 3 fields, but have other experience not mentioned in the ad.

  • 24
    Is it possible they are just casting a wide net and may consider different positions for people with different skill sets? Not all companies have one specific role in mind when they post a job vacancy. Is there a way of finding this out? (Recruitment agent, someone you know in the company, etc.)
    – user34587
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 7:21
  • 5
    Possible duplicate of How to interview for a job I do not feel qualified for
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 7:36
  • @Kozaky, there's no way for me to find out before the interview. I'm a bit uneasy because I wouldn't like the company to put me on their blacklist if I can't answer questions concerning the 3rd area and make an idiot of myself. It's a big company and it's possible that they will have other interesting positions soon.
    – BigMadAndy
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 10:56
  • 2
    Is the third area a requirement or a "nice-to-have" - (some companies label it as an asset)?
    – dokgu
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 18:49

9 Answers 9


Many companies can facilitate learning on the job. If you have the capacity to learn, you don't necessarily need to have the skill from the get-go. This could be one reason why they invited you to an interview, despite your CV clearly showing you don't have the requested skill(s). Job advertisement skills lists are very rarely make-or-break requirements. They might be looking for people that can grow into the position.

So, do attend the interview and see how it goes. You are not cheating anyone, if you don't lie about anything :)

  • 27
    What I always do is being really open and straigh forward about my skillset and skill level, just pointing out if I have 0 experience in some area/technology but also showing my willingness to learn everything required in order to master the position i'm applying to. That usually is really effective. Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 9:06
  • 13
    What @AlexanderAeonsTorn is a good point, too. Keep in mind many candidates (most?) will not be honest and transparent about these things. Having someone say, "I don't know this at all but am excited to learn" is a lot better than "I'm good at this!" and then... when asked, obviously they aren't good at it and have nearly no experience with whatever they just said.
    – enderland
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 12:29

First, it's an excellent opportunity to train your interview skills. Opportunities are scarce for that, so enjoy, and learn. Even seasoned veterans can improve in that domain.

Second, it's a common occurrence that no candidate fits all checkboxes. As soon as you need a profile with many specifics, it's more than likely that they'll choose a candidate with holes. In my current position, "functional knowledge of the healthcare industry" was a mandatory requirement, and I had none of it. I did learn. They like my contribution.

Third, a candidate who fits fewer checkboxes, but shows more potential, may be a better choice in the long run. As others have already said, do not lie about it. If they understand you are ready to improve, progress, and learn in the domain you have not already mastered, and you'll increase your chances of getting the job.

I'd go for not speaking about it unless asked, and jump on "I'd love to improve in that" once asked. I once had an interview where one of the needs disappeared between the time they printed the ad, and the interview. Speaking about it was actually a mistake.

  • 20
    This. I've hired people for my team, including conducting interviews and giving profile information to HR for the ad. It is quite normal to write a "120%" profile where you don't actually expect any candidate to fit all your requirements. But you list them because one candidate might have A, B and C and the other B, C and D and you are ok with either set, so you require all four. You would be surprised how many "mandatory" requirements are actually not quite so mandatory.
    – Tom
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 10:03
  • 8
    In addition to this answer, and the above comment, I've occasinally hired people who came in to interview for Job A but were actually a better fit for Job B that they didn't apply for. If they looked at the resume and called you, obviously they value you something about you. (You can always ask about this, at the interview.) Conversely, I've also worked with a number of companies that 'required' a minimum number of candidates for a position so they could claim to have done their due diligence in looking for a candidate.
    – Mark
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 11:19
  • 2
    @Tom, well put, "requirements" is often a misnomer. The employer wants to fill the position with the best-fit candidate-- and that is NOT necessarily the person who fulfills the entire wish-list in the job description. The fact the candidate was selected for interview means the candidate is "close enough" for careful consideration. This is far more likely than the idea that they misread the CV.
    – teego1967
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 15:09
  • 4
    The 'requirements' from HR might have nothing to do with the job. That might sound pessimistic but even in a case where a manager wanted to hire me (based on work from the past), when he wrote the requiorements specifically to point 100% to me HR managed to 'improve' them in such a way that neither of us recognises the vacancy. Luckily for me boss and me I am still doing the work which he wants me to do. And not whatever ramble was on a HR posting. WHich is a long winded way of saying "Ignore requirements. Get an interview. Get past HR' Then talk about the people deciding and knowledgeable.
    – Hennes
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 16:48
  • 2
    Hennes adds another good point: Very often there is a disconnect between the manager looking for a candidate and the HR department writing the ad. They might have standard texts to use, or standard requirements to add, or simply feel they can make the ad better.
    – Tom
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 17:54

If you have been chosen for an interview and don't know a particular field don't lie.. they are going to know about it anyway if you get the job. Always be honest at your interview!

  • 3
    Yes, be open about it, and also bring it up early. It could be that they are aware and the third skill is something they're happy to teach you on the job if you have skills 1 and 2. Alternatively it could be that they skimmed your CV and missed something that's a deal-breaker. Either way, it's in both party's benefit to mention this early. Worst case, you save yourself an hour or so of time.
    – delinear
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 8:31

There are 3 main areas of responsibility the person will be working on. I know two of them, but nothing about the third one.

Finding a perfect fit is hard, so many companies are OK with new hires learning required skills at the job. Having 2/3 seems reasonable to me.

At the interview be honest that you never worked with item 3, and you would have to learn it. Meanwhile you can explore about item 3 and see if it is something you are interested in learning.


What are other options?

My first guess would be that either they honestly overlooked it and need the things you don't have; or they noticed the omission, but are still interested in you - maybe for a slightly different position, or for learning on the job.

How should I approach that during the interview ("sell it")?

Be as natural as you can be. View it as an occasion for networking, or to make a small foray into an unknown area. Don't view it as an interview as such; or rather an interview of your general character or approach to learning.

I wouldn't like to waste a week or more preparing

A short period of study to get a basic overview is of course important, but do not try to get some superficial know-how by studying for a week or more leading up to the interview. They will most certainly catch up to that, and if you try to pass it off as more than "I've googled it", you'll pretty much be disqualified for seeming slightly dishonest.

Should I be assertive about not having experience in one of the fields they expect experience in and stress expertise in other fields not mentioned in the ad?

"Assertive" and "stress" sounds quite laborious. Of course you should let them know, and maybe make sure that what's already in your CV is repeated during the talk. Some managers may not study the CV in-depth before the meeting and may have forgotten about this missing item. But I would not make a huge issue of it.

Can I do anything to increase my chances of getting the job? I want it, but don't fulfill the conditions.

Be yourself and hope that they see something that they like. Obviously, try to find out more about the job during the meeting, and if you see anything in the area you are already experienced in, make sure they know what you have to offer.

If, near the end of the interview (or the part where you talked about your experiences), you are not quite convinced that the issue has come up sufficiently, you may ask a last question, something like "by the way, you list A, B and C as prerequisites - I bring C, but you should be aware that A and B are not really my expertise". And see how they react.

  • 3
    I would really, really disagree with not researching the area that the OP isn't familiar with. For sure he shouldn't claim unwarranted expertise, but a short period of study to get a basic overview is really important. It may well come up during the interview that the interviewer does some explaining of this third area, and having a basic background will allow the OP to fill in details, rather than being completely lost.
    – DaveG
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 13:50
  • 1
    @DaveG, thanks for that comment. I've cleared up my intended meaning, and stolen a half-sentence from your comment. Hope that's better now.
    – AnoE
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 14:57

In my experience, I've been burned by employers failing to read my full resume during a transition between specialties and it's been a negative experience for both sides. Since then, I've found it extremely important to manage both my own expectations as well as my potential employers and its made my life considerably easier.

Given that this is a non-entry level, skilled position the most critical thing is that you do not misrepresent yourself. During your interview, do not shy away from the lack of experience on the matter.

Demonstrate your attention to detail by indicating that you are able to perform elements 1 and 2 of the job description, but will be expecting your manager to assist with element 3. Come prepared with potential options for how that can be done either in the form of requesting a mentor to help you learn the skill, potential training classes you can take, or a third option. I do not recommend offering to learn the skill on your own time (i.e. you pay for your own training, unless that's a commonplace thing in your field).

I'd recommend bringing this up at the point of the interview when the interviewer asks if you've any questions for them (i.e. not right from the outset). If the employer seems put off by this, you may not want to accept an offer if one is made. On the other hand, if the employer is enthusiastic and indicates they're fine with training you for what you don't know, just make sure it's in writing and you should be good to go.

  • That said, it's still possible that they'll go with someone else. I've had that experience several times. Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 23:02
  • @Draco18s that's true regardless. But many times a position's requirements may be difficult to completely fulfill with spending a lot of time doing a job search. It can be more cost-effective for a company to get 90% of what they need in a candidate and train the remainder. It helps the company if an applicant can demonstrate self-awareness regarding where to spend training dollars as opposed to making management have to figure it out after the fact. Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 12:35

How should I approach that during the interview ("sell it")?

You don't need to "sell" anything. An interview means that they are interested and so are you. The interview is there to see if you are a good fit for each other.

Should I be assertive about not having experience in one of the fields they expect experience in and stress expertise in other fields not mentioned in the ad?

You should be inquisitive as to what the plan is in terms of training you in the fields where you lack expertise/experience. What is the timeline for completing my training? What kinds of training seminars will I be doing? are both valid questions to ask.

Bottom line is that although you want the job, you want to make sure that you manage expectations by being real about what you can accomplish in the job. Remember that doing a good job after getting hired is the real goal.


Call the person who chose you and get clarification: "I've re-read your ad and noticed [X]. I'm a quick learner but I don't actually have [X]. Is that a dealbreaker?"

If it's not (and very often it isn't) they'll be impressed at your willingness to clarify and communicate.

If it is, you wouldn't have got the job anyway. No point wasting your time and theirs.

  • 10
    it's possible though that the person you end up talking to on the phone may not be the person[s] responsible for calling you into the interview. Just trust the process - they want to talk to you, go ahead and go on in
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 14:00
  • @NKCampbell Agreed and even if the person on the other end was the one responsible for accepting the CV, that person might had its own reasons to make that decision. E.g.s: they did not find a person with all the required skills or enough proficiency on them and they need to hire ASAP; the recruiter noticed a particular skill in the CV that is as valuable or more than those mentioned in their ad; they plan to hire the person with almost all required skills for a (much) lower salary. The latter almost happened to me: I just lacked 1 of all the 9 skills and they proposed to halve the amount.
    – Armfoot
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 21:06
  • Theres nothing to gain and everything to lose from this answer. Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 23:43
  • 1
    @JamieClinton there is nothing to gain from continuing and everything to lose if they notice they've made a mistake and picked the wrong person. I often get job offers where some recruiters took me for someone else. It's stupid to not ask about a possible mistake if you clearly know it might be one. You're not making a very good impression by knowingly hiding this fact. I agree with this answer and it got my +1.
    – red-shield
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 19:42

How should I approach that during the interview ("sell it")?

"Yes, I do lack skill #3. I never had any reason to acquire that skill at one of my old jobs. But I'm absolutely confident I bring the necessary skill set to learn that quickly and to put my new knowledge to action in a short timeframe.

See, from my past experience, this will happen again and again over time - learning and applying interesting new things: it's just development. I'm absolutely willing and, in my view, capable to do that; that's why I applied anyway.

Of course you may look for someone who already brings all the skills required, if you want to. If you need a designated expert in #3 right now, that will probably be the better way - for both of us. Otherwise, I'd be happy to try."

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