I am applying for a particular position where they have asked me if I have first-hand experience in protein crystallization and x-ray structure determination. I don’t have experience in any of those but I have mentioned my other experiences as asked. I lack only these.

How should I positively reply back so that it conforms my position there?

  • 3
    Is it something you can easily learn and do you have the necessary background to do so? If so, tell them that. If not - think about it if you want to have a job you probably cannot do.
    – Mark
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 18:30
  • I'm not sure this is a great fit for Academia S.E. -- it almost seems better suited to Workplace S.E. (even if it is a grad school interview). But I'm not certain enough to VTC.
    – tonysdg
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 0:25
  • Thank you tonysdg for suggestion i will post this question there.
    – noobie
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 6:25
  • @tonysdg: I don’t think it’s off-topic here. This is not one of those situations where everything is generalisable to a non-academic hiring process.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 6:26
  • @Wrzlprmft Thank you. Actually i am new to this, so i had no idea where to post.
    – noobie
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 8:50

1 Answer 1


First of all, do not worry too much about whether this is a strict requirement for the position. This is something they have to decide (based on your honest assessment of your prerequisites). Also, if you made it past the first stage of the hiring process, it is likely that this is not a strict criterion.

Additionally note that (depending on country, field, and individuals) job ads that ask for more than they can possibly get are sadly common and in this case it is no problem if you only have a subset of the skills they ask for. Whether this actually applies to your situation is something you have to judge yourself: How likely is it that somebody already acquired all the mentioned skills at your stage? In particular if we are talking about a PhD position here, acquiring relevant skills on the job should be the norm.

That being said, when faced with such a question:

  • Answer truthfully. You don’t want to do a job you cannot do and it almost certainly ruins your relationship with your advisor if they suspect you were dishonest about this.

  • Is there anything similar you have experience with or anything that may facilitate you learning these skills? If yes, talk briefly about this.

  • Do you find the methods in question interesting? If yes, state so and explain why. (If no, you probably should look for another position.) It may very well be that you were asked this question just to check that you do not shiver with disgust in light of these methods.

  • If it wouldn’t be uncommon to have these skills at your level, explain why you do not have them. For example, if your past universities did not offer a course on them, state this.

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