Surprise questions might not be critical, they could simply be unexpected. By your viva you have plenty of talent for responding to questions, but a surprise question might still stun you.
If you are worried about surprise questions:
- Decide on how you will respond to questions in the viva: will you make a quick note? Will you pause and take a breath to think?
- Practise answering unexpected questions: will you have a mock viva? Could you give a presentation and take questions?
- Write down a list of when you’ve answered questions in difficult circumstances: what conference talks have you given? When have you been in seminars and engaged with tricky discussions?
Preparation and reflection can help you to see that surprise questions can be manageable. They could surprise you, but the surprise doesn’t have to be bad.