Questions About Questions

Your examiners will ask you questions. They have to: it’s an essential part of the viva process. They will share opinions or make statements to encourage you to make a response but they couldn’t get through your viva without asking a question.

Engaging with a question could be as simple as pausing to consider what was asked, thinking about what you’re going to say and then respond as clearly as you can. If a question was surprising or had an unexpected element you might want to reflect further:

  • Did I understand this question correctly?
  • Why is it surprising? (if it is)
  • What do I know about this examiner and their work?
  • What information do I know that might be relevant?
  • What could I check in my thesis that might help?

It would be wrong to expect every question in a viva to be mind-meltingly almost-impossible. They won’t be.

It’s right to remember that if you encounter a tough question that there is a lot you can do to engage and respond.