How To Get Un-Stuck During a Tricky Coding Interview Problem

How To Get Un-Stuck During a Tricky Coding Interview Problem

Coding interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, especially when you encounter a particularly challenging problem. It’s not uncommon to find yourself feeling stuck, unsure of how to proceed, and battling against the ticking clock. However, getting stuck doesn’t mean the end of the road. With the right approach and mindset, you can navigate through even the trickiest of coding problems. In this blog post, we’ll explore some strategies to help you get unstuck and tackle coding interview problems with confidence.

Take a Deep Breath and Relax:

Feeling stuck in the middle of a coding problem can trigger panic and anxiety, making it difficult to think clearly. When you find yourself in this situation, the first step is to take a deep breath and try to relax. Remind yourself that it’s okay to encounter challenges during interviews and that getting stuck is a normal part of the process. Clearing your mind and calming your nerves can help you approach the problem with a fresh perspective.

Break Down the Problem:

Many coding interview problems appear daunting because of their complexity. Breaking down the problem into smaller, more manageable parts can make it less intimidating. Start by identifying the key components of the problem and understanding what it’s asking you to do. Look for patterns or similarities to problems you’ve solved in the past, as this can provide valuable insights into potential approaches.

Clarify the Requirements:

Sometimes, getting stuck on a coding problem stems from a misunderstanding of the problem’s requirements. Take a moment to carefully read and analyze the problem statement, making sure you fully understand what is being asked of you. Pay attention to any constraints or edge cases mentioned in the problem description, as overlooking them can lead to incorrect solutions.

Work Through Examples:

One effective strategy for getting unstuck during a coding interview is to work through examples. Choose a few sample inputs and manually walk through the problem, step by step, to understand how the solution should behave. This can help you identify any flaws or gaps in your current approach and guide you towards finding a more effective solution.

Try a Different Approach:

If you’ve been banging your head against the same approach for too long without making progress, it might be time to try a different approach. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm alternative solutions or explore different problem-solving techniques. Sometimes, a fresh perspective can lead to breakthroughs that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Use Pseudocode or Diagrams:

When you’re struggling to translate your thoughts into code, using pseudocode or diagrams can be incredibly helpful. Write out a high-level outline of your solution in plain language, focusing on the logic and algorithmic steps without worrying about syntax. Alternatively, sketch out diagrams or visual representations of the problem and your proposed solution. This can provide clarity and help you identify potential pitfalls before writing actual code.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help:

It’s important to remember that coding interviews are not just about demonstrating your technical prowess; they’re also an opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills and ability to collaborate. If you’re truly stuck and unable to make progress on your own, don’t hesitate to ask the interviewer for clarification or guidance. Communicate your thought process, explain the approach you’ve been trying, and be open to feedback. Interviewers appreciate candidates who are proactive and willing to seek help when needed.


Getting stuck during a coding interview can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to derail your chances of success. By staying calm, breaking down the problem, clarifying the requirements, and being open to alternative approaches, you can overcome even the trickiest of coding challenges. Remember to breathe, stay focused, and approach the problem methodically. With practice and perseverance, you’ll develop the skills and confidence needed to ace your coding interviews.

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    Nam Le Thanh

    I am Nam Le Thanh, an international web design freelancer and the owner of Work Whale, a job board platform aimed at connecting talents with meaningful opportunities. With a career spanning several years, I have had the privilege of collaborating with renowned brands both domestically and internationally. My passion lies in creating high-class, artistic designs that prioritize user experience. Through projects like Work Whale, I strive to contribute to the community and support others.

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