Generally, I would tell an interviewer that I have "hands-on experience" with this technology, by which I mean that my experience in this field is very limited, but quite efficient and knowledgeable.

I've had this feeling that quoting it this way does not give the correct message. It does not clearly explain the "efficient and knowledgeable" part. So how do I say it? Is there a one-word expression for it, or is there any better statement to express this?

  • @BillFranke I don't know why, but somehow I have always been reluctant in saying so. I feel as if it is not clear.
    – Evol Gate
    Jan 28, 2013 at 9:23
  • 1
    Limited yet knowledgeable! Sounds conflicting....
    – Sayan
    Jan 28, 2013 at 12:30

3 Answers 3


Just say "hands-on experience". It's common parlance in the work world. Everyone will know what it means: "I've worked with this technology". Then you give some (two or three) examples of your hands-on experience.

I don't know what you mean by "my experience in this field is very limited but quite efficient and knowledgeable". First, experience cannot be reasonably described as "efficient and knowledgeable". You can describe yourself as an "efficient and knowledgeable" worker. But saying that your experience is limited seems to contradict your statement that you are "knowledgeable".

The best thing to do is prepare a statement that makes all your points in as few words as necessary to get them across to the interviewer. Don't force the interviewer to guess at what you mean. Say it clearly and directly without being too boastful or modest.

  • Yes Bill, my mistake. Actually I wanted to say "I have good knowledge in this field and can work efficiently".
    – Evol Gate
    Jan 28, 2013 at 9:33
  • 1
    @Evol: Then that's what you should say. Be clear, be honest, be brief, and be ready to back up whatever you say.
    – user21497
    Jan 28, 2013 at 9:35
  • So true Bill :)
    – Evol Gate
    Jan 28, 2013 at 9:37

'Hands-on experience' does not mean 'experience in this field is very limited but quite efficient and knowledgeable.'

Hands-on experience means,

knowledge or skill that someone gets from doing something rather than just reading about it or seeing it being done:
They will participate in workshops and get hands-on experience leading classes.
He always said he learned more about newspapers from hands-on experience than he did in the classroom.

'Efficient and knowledgeable' would be the recommended and preferred expression instead, as that is what you intend to say. I strongly feel that you mean proficient, not efficient, though.

  • Kris don't you think proficient would denote highly skilled in my case. I don't want the interviewer to have that feeling either. I just want to convey that "I have good knowledge in this field and can work efficiently"
    – Evol Gate
    Jan 28, 2013 at 11:07
  • @EvolGate pro·fi·cient /prəˈfiSHənt/ Adj Competent or skilled in doing or using something. -I was proficient at my job -she felt reasonably proficient in Italian [Google]; To be very good at something because of training and practice [britishcouncil.org]. Not 'highly skilled'.
    – Kris
    Jan 29, 2013 at 6:34

The other term you might be looking for is "practical experience", which as an interviewer I would take to mean that you have (an unspecified amount of) experience in actually using a technology, as opposed to theoretical or "book knowledge" only. Of course you could also qualify that as much or as little as you like, e.g. "some practical experience", "three months' practical experience", etc.

  • oxymoronlist.com/practical-experience
    – Kris
    Jan 29, 2013 at 6:29
  • @Kris I don't understand how this can be considered an oxymoron, there is nothing particularly contradictory about the two words. But even if it is, "practical experience" is nonetheless a phrase with a specific and well-understood meaning in job-hunting and technical circles.
    – calum_b
    Jan 29, 2013 at 10:52
  • You could accuse the phrase of being a pleonasm but an oxymoron? Why @Kris?
    – terdon
    Jan 30, 2013 at 1:56
  • There's nothing oxymoronic about the phrase 'practical experience'. You can have experiences with something that are not practical. 'Practical' implies that you not only experienced it (eg. by reading a book), but you actually used it to do something.
    – Pete855217
    Jun 16, 2013 at 11:13

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