Questions and comments in the viva are supposed to be fair, but they could also be tough.
You might forget something. You might not know something. You might disagree with your examiners. You might be surprised. You might need time to reflect and think.
All of these are understandable, but faced with a tough question or comment you could default to certain behaviours:
- Freeze. You stop and go blank, panic gripping you.
- Flee. You try to bluff and evade, get away from the point and onto firmer ground.
- Fight. You could be over-assertive from a place of worry.
These are the classic responses to troubling situations. They won’t serve you well in the viva. They won’t help you to engage with a tough question and could only make things worse for you and the discussion. However, you could always:
- Figure it out. You can take a moment, breathe, pause, think, sip some water and calmly respond.
You can’t choose the questions you’ll be asked in your viva – but you can decide in advance how you would like to engage with your examiners.
You don’t have to freeze at, flee from or fight with tough questions.
Take a moment to figure it out instead.