Even if you are asked what seems like a yes–no question, you are expected to say more.

The IELTS interview gives you roughly 10 to 15 minutes of time to display your English speaking skills to the examiner. If you give one-word or very short answers to questions you are not giving the examiner much with which to assess you.

Even if you are asked what seems like a yes–no question you are expected to say more than a simple “yes" or “no”. You should try to develop what you say by, for example, giving reasons, opinions or describing something in more detail.

In the video clip Joao is asked to tell the examiner something he likes about his job. He answers by saying “the people”, which shows that he has understood the question, but it doesn’t show off any of his English skills. What he needs to do, which eventually he does with some prompting from the examiner, is to develop his answer and describe in more detail why he likes the people he works with.

A good tip for candidates is to look for signals from the examiner. Often you can see from the examiner’s facial expression or manner if you have said enough or not.


Thank you for many tips. Even though I have yet decided to take IELTS, it seems to me interesting, because it is a human-to-human test. Some other computer-aided tests are a little bit daunting.
As for an interview, I am sometimes (or often) embarrassed that I cannot develop my idea further. Then stop speaking... In particular, on some abstract issues such as global warming.
Would you like to give me advice how can I practice to develop my idea in an interview? Unfortunately, I cannot find English speaking people in my neighborhood. Recently, I have started to post my ideas in some FutureLearn courses. Writing my idea is also helpful for an interview?

Hello Masa,

Have you taken a look at our site for IELTS candidates, TakeIELTS? You can find a great deal of advice there, as well as practice materials, mock exams, sample answers and more. You can find pages on the speaking part of the test here, for example.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi. I'm April. I am going to take ielts exam on 21th April. I am in troubles with speaking skill. I do not have partner who is native speakers to practice. It's difficult to correct mistakes and make my voice more naturally.

hi. i'm vietnamese too. nice to know you. :)

Hello April,

I'd highly recommend you consult TakeIELTS, where you'll find lots of information, advice and even some free practice materials that will help you prepare. You might also want to read the advice on improving your speaking on our Frequently asked questions page.

If you're able to take one, and IELTS preparation class at a British Council centre in Vietnam would also help you prepare as much as you can for the test.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hi . im lynh and studying in university and i want to ask . i study ielts in some center english , but my level can not higher . Then i decide to study by myself . i dont know why , although i made a lot of books ( colins for ielts , vocabulary , writing ,.... ) . can you give me some advise ? and what do ?

Hello lynh,

It's difficult for us to give you any specific advice without knowing you better, but there's some general advice on our FAQ page that might help you, and for more information and practice materials related to the IELTS, I'd recommend TakeIELTS.

I hope this helps you.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

im quite tired coz my level very weak and its cant rise . thanks , Kirk . I will try to change my method .

There's a situation that I'm wondering about:
In some cases there's no need to travel to make or have an interview (for a job application for example) you can do it by phone or use skype what's more common.
The fact that both participants (interviewer and interviewee) are far away of each other makes the interviewer speak or use, in some cases, unfamiliar words and/or accent. That can maybe frustrate the interviewee and decrease his chances and also he can understand a part of the question and his answer will be incomplete.
1. How can I ask that person to speak clearly?
2. Is it advisable to let the interviewer know that?


Hello Sphynx,

In general, I think it's important to tell the interviewer if you're having a difficult time understanding him or her. I expect that most will be quite understanding, especially as it is often more difficult to understand someone over the computer or phone. Questions like yours are really best for a career counselor, but I'd say it's a good idea to say if you have a hard time understanding someone. A couple of sentences you could use to do this are:

I'm afraid that I'm having a hard time understanding you.
I'm afraid that the connection is making it difficult for me to understand you.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team