When I tell candidates their examiners will be checking their competence in the viva, I feel them pull back. Perhaps we’ve heard the word “incompetent” too often. Now even if we talk about the opposite it comes to mind. I ponder the viva and how to help people all the time. So I keep thinking about this word, competence, and if there’s a better way to get the point across.

I turn to the thesaurus and find:

expertise, fitness, know-how, proficiency, savvy, skill, suitability, talent, the right stuff, what it takes

As a candidate you’re not being asked to be superhuman. You need to be good. You need to have done something good.

That has to necessarily be the case by the time you submit. There’s just no other explanation.

To get this far you have what it takes.