One question you’ll often be asked in part one of your IELTS Speaking test is, “What work do you do?”
Let’s look at how to answer this question, without saying too much or too little. Below, you can also read 20 example answers (go straight to the answers here).
Your Job vs Your Field of Work
When talking about your work, you can say your job: “I’m a salesperson.”
Or you can say the field you work in: “I work in sales.”
Or you can say both: “I’m a salesman. And I’ve been working in sales for eight years now.”
It’s good to know how to express both your job and your field of work.
What You Can Talk About
To answer this question, first, of course, just say what you do.
Then add one or two more sentences (not too many) to explain or add more details. You can say:
- A little more about the job, to explain what it is
- What your responsibilities are
- What you need to do every day for that job (very briefly)
- What you specialize in (if anything)
- Your industry (manufacturing, finance, gaming, cosmetics and beauty, entertainment…)
- Your company
- Where you work (country, city…)
- How long you’ve had that job for
- When you started
- What you used to do, if you’ve made a big career change
- If you enjoy it or not (very briefly)
- Anything else that comes to mind
Warning: Keep It Short!
Be careful with this question. Because it’s so easy for us to talk about our work, we can be tempted to talk and talk and talk…
But don’t do this.
Part-one answers should be quite short and natural. Imagine you’re just having a conversation with a friend.
Answers with one or two sentences, and then stop.
Your answer can be 10 to 20 seconds long. That is fine for part one.
Practice using the three-step YES Method for your part one answers. Just say:
- Your answer (your job)
- Explain your answer, or add more details (with just one or two more sentences)
- Stop talking (wait patiently for the next question)
Focus on Fluency, Not Vocabulary
In part one, if you try to think of clever vocabulary to use, you will probably slow down and hesitate. This will hurt your score.
Instead, to give a good first impression to the examiner, focus on fluency.
This means answering as quickly as you can, using simple English. And try not to hesitate.
In part two, you can focus more on vocabulary, when you will have more time to think and prepare.
Here are 20 good answers. Read them carefully and see if you can borrow some ideas for your own answer.
1. I’m a programmer for a small company that makes apps for Android phones. So I need to develop the software and programming that makes our apps work properly.
2. I’ve been working in sales for four years and I really enjoy it. I mostly sell insurance for my company, which is a large multinational bank.
3. I’m a human resources manager for a manufacturing company in Thailand. My responsibilities include hiring and firing employees and also training new employees for various roles.
4. Well, I’m actually a yoga instructor in training. I only started this new career about 6 months ago, but I love it and I hope to have my own yoga studio one day.
5. I’m a teacher at a large elementary school in Berlin. I’ve been a teacher for most of my life since I graduated about 14 years ago.
6. I’m a doctor with my own private clinic. I specialize in cardiology, which means treating people with problems relating to the heart and blood vessels.
7. I’m a copywriter, which means I write all the sales materials for a variety of different small businesses in my town. It’s a challenging job that requires me to be very creative, which I really enjoy.
8. I’m an office worker, and I’m responsible for a few different administrative tasks. I work in the back office of a medium-sized hotel in Singapore.
9. I work in civil engineering, which means I help to build large structures like buildings and bridges. I specialize in structural engineering, so I have to make sure new buildings and structures are being built in a safe way.
10. I’m a freelance graphic designer. I help companies to design their marketing materials like leaflets, brochures, and websites.
11. I’m a factory worker in the automobile industry. I’ve been working for a well-known French car company called Renault for five years now.
12. I’m a journalist working for an online entertainment publication. I need to review new software, apps, and games all the time, which really is a lot of fun.
13. I work in finance in Moscow, the capital of Russia. I’m responsible for analyzing international financial markets so that we can make good investment decisions for our clients.
14. Well, I’m currently a shop assistant at a cosmetics shop on Oxford Street, London. But my major is biochemistry and when I graduate, I’ll start a career in that field.
15. I’m an accountant. I’ve recently taken up a position in a large accountancy firm in Dubai. I specialize in forensic accountancy, which makes me kind of a detective in the financial world.
16. I have my own business, so I’m an entrepreneur. My company makes biking accessories, mostly to export to customers in the Australian market.
17. I’m a professional artist. I sell my art through an online marketplace. And I also design jewelry for a small boutique jewelry store in my hometown.
18. I’ve been working in marketing as a marketing manager for 11 years now. I used to write and design adverts for our clients, but now I manage a team of 23 people and we handle hundreds of clients.
19. I work for my family’s business as an administrator, so I have to deal with paperwork all day. My main responsibility is to make sure everything runs smoothly.
20. I’m currently between jobs. I don’t like being unemployed, and I hope to find a new job soon. My career of choice is anything in the tourism industry. That was my major at university.
It’s Your Turn to Try
Now, give this question a go yourself.
Remember to answer quite simply and quickly, and don’t say too much.
Use the three-step YES Method to help with this.
It’s best to set up a voice recorder and then ask yourself out loud, “What work do you do?”
Afterward, listen to it, find any mistakes, and answer the question again. Try to improve a little each time.
Keep repeating this process and you’ll soon be ready for part one of your IELTS Speaking test.