What if I don't know the answer to a software engineer interview question?

How can I demonstrate my knowledge, even if the interviewer is asking me something that I can’t answer? How do I tell the interviewer that I am strong with [x], but not with [y]? What if they tell me to code a problem one way, but I have another approach in mind?

Lean towards revealing positive information, when possible. If you can’t solve the problem using the method suggested by the interviewer, then ask if you can approach the problem differently. You can suggest that your method is potentially more optimal. However, make sure that you let the interviewer know that you are going to use a different method and your reasoning for doing so. This demonstrates effective communication skills and gives them the chance to understand what you are thinking. If you do not let the interviewer know, they might think that you are misunderstanding their request. To justify your approach, you can say something like, “Using a hashmap here makes sense because we are looking for a constant time speed up. This is potentially more efficient than having to look through the entire ray.”