8 Ways to Make or Break a Job Interview

“My last boss and I really didn’t see eye to eye. He wasn’t a very good leader and wasn’t open to creative input and ideas. We butted heads quite a bit.” Find mouth. Insert foot. While this may be a very candid answer to an interview question, it’s never a good idea to bare all.

Hiring recruiters and managers are looking for the right kinds of answers to their questions, and one misstep could mean the difference between landing the job and being passed over. By knowing what could make or break an interview, you can be better prepared with answers to those seemingly harmless questions.

TIME briefs hiring recruiters and managers on what an answer or attitude says about a candidate. Knowing what your answers and how you present them says about you will help you pick the right thing to say.

1. Express excitement. This isn’t the time or place to “play cool.” If you’re excited about this opportunity, by all means, show it and verbalize it. Recruiters and managers want someone that isn’t just energetic but has a zest for the company and the work they’re doing.

2. Check your complaints at the door. Questions may be asked about your previous employer and team members. If so, this isn’t the time to air dirty laundry. Focus on your positive experiences at your last job. If you’re asked specifically about difficulties or disagreements you maybe have had at your last job, be honest without being tacky.

3. Show your willingness to be a team player. Being part of a team means picking up the slack and taking on more or different responsibilities at times. Recruiters and managers are looking for potential employers that can fill a position on the team, not just a single job.

4. Don’t take the lead. Now is not the time to take charge. You’re the interviewee, not the interviewer. Let them lead. Answer a question when it’s asked, and wait until the appropriate time to ask them questions.

5. No excuses. So you’re late for an interview or you forgot your interview papers. Don’t make excuses; make an apology. Tell the interviewer that it’s your fault — as TIME states, “own the problem.” Ask when a better time is to conduct the interview or bring papers.

6. Be prepared. Time is precious everywhere you interview. When it’s time for the interview to start, be ready. Don’t shuffle through papers or make unnecessary small talk.

7. Ask meaningful questions. Don’t ask a question just to ask a question. Research the company and come up with your own list of questions for the interviewer. If he or she has covered all of your questions throughout the interview, there is no need to make something up on the spot. Just simply say, “No, you’ve answered all of my questions.”

8. End candidly. If you had a great interview and you’d love working at the company, let the hiring recruiter or manager know. TIME suggests ending the interview as such, “Thanks for the interview. I enjoyed speaking with you, and I would really love to work here.”

What else can make or break an interview? Leave us a comment below.