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. You are expected to say more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
You should try to develop what you say by giving reasons, opinions or describing something in more detail, show off your English skills.
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.
Don’t get over-emotional.
In an interview situation it’s always good to express yourself and to convey your feelings, however there is a limit. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation that causes you to become over-emotional and perhaps lose control as this could jeopardise the success of your whole interview.
In order to avoid this, think about the kind of things that you may be asked about in an interview that could cause you to get emotional, a pet that died recently, an exam you failed, an argument you had with a friend. By thinking about them in advance you can mentally prepare yourself to talk about them, or our best advice would be to try to avoid talking on these sensitive subjects altogether and wherever possible answer the question using a different example.
Don’t memorise answers.
It’s common for interviewees to prepare answers in advance but there are things that you should avoid doing.
To some extent you can predict the kind of topics that you might be asked to talk about in the IELTS interview. This means that it is quite common for interviewees to prepare answers in advance and learn them by heart. Then, in the interview if the topic comes up they will regurgitate (verb; repeat after memorisation) their answer, whether it answers the question or not. There are several problems with this approach.
Firstly, it is usually very clear that an answer has been memorised as it sounds very unnatural to the examiner. Examiners have a lot of experience interviewing people and they can easily see when something isn’t quite right. If they suspect that the answer has been memorised they will probably interrupt your answer and move on to another question.
Secondly, if you have memorised an answer it is very unlikely that it will actually answer the question directly and this will be another signal to the examiner that something isn’t quite right.
In summary, you should avoid trying to memorise answers, but you can still prepare for the interview by thinking about possible topics and making sure you have the vocabulary and language to talk about the topics in general.
Not a job interview.
The IELTS interview is different from a job interview. Be sure to showcase your English ability, not your job qualification. Are job interviews the same as IELTS interviews? The answer is, in some ways they are and in others they are not.
How are they the same?
In a job interview and an IELTS interview you are asked questions and based on your answers you are judged by another person. In both you are trying to create a good impression.
How are they different?
In a job interview you are trying to showcase your experience, your qualifications and your skills and expertise that are relevant for the job you are applying for. In contrast, in an IELTS interview you are only showcasing your level of spoken English and it is this that the examiner will judge you on.
In an IELTS interview you do not need to sell yourself in terms of your job qualifications or experience, you simply need to demonstrate to the examiner your competence in English.
Tell the truth.
It might be better to express a negative opinion if that gives you more to say. What would you do if you were asked in an interview to talk about how you feel about your hometown if in fact you really disliked living there?
Some people might think that by being truthful in this situation and giving a negative answer that this would not be the right thing to do and instead you should lie and talk about how you love living there to give a more positive sounding answer.
Actually, truthfulness is not important and neither is giving a negative opinion of something. The important thing is that you have something to express. If you have more to say by being truthful, even if it is expressing a negative opinion, then that is what you should talk about.
It would be much better to say ‘Actually I don’t really like my hometown’ and follow it up with your reasons for disliking it than to say ‘I like my hometown’ and then struggle to find anything to say.