A Careful Candidate

I think this is the overall mindset I’m trying to encourage when I try to help people get ready for their viva.

Careful doesn’t mean cautious or pessimistic. Careful doesn’t mean trying to game the process or gain an advantage. Careful, in this sense, means someone taking their time to think things through – only a little – and trying not to leave themselves open to errors that could have been avoided.

For example, if you want to be a careful PhD candidate for your viva you could:

  • Discuss possible examiners with your supervisor and say what you would look for.
  • Plot out the weeks when you’re likely to be preparing for your viva to get a sense of what time you might have.
  • Decide on what you will wear for the viva to help you feel your best self.
  • Make opportunities to present and discuss your work to gain confidence.
  • Read your examiners’ work, both to show a little respect and to get a sense of their perspective.
  • Read the regulations for your institution and ask about anything that is unclear.
  • Ask recent graduates about their experiences to help set your expectations.

Be careful – full of care – to respect the moments you have coming up in the viva. Approach the viva confidently, having understood what it’s about, and what you can do to do it well.