I like SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – as a simple tool that provides a lot of direction for thinking. I’ve written about it before but today I want to explore how it could help you think about you as a candidate for your viva day.
- Strengths: What are you strengths as a candidate? What do you know well? How can you use that to your advantage?
- Weaknesses: Where do you feel weak? Why? What steps could you take to support yourself, if you need to?
- Opportunities: Where are there opportunities for you in the viva? What questions could you ask your examiners? How could you make the most of the situation?
- Threats: What could have a negative impact on your viva day? What’s beyond your control? What steps could you take to minimise the impact?
The threats are already minimal in the viva; perhaps think about how you will get there, and decide in advance what you will take. There are lots of opportunities to get useful insights from your examiners. They have experience that you can use, ideas that could help you if your plans are to stay in academia, for example. You might have weaknesses, but they can’t be terrible because you would never have got this far if they were. Think about what you might do to help you feel confident despite them.
Remember that you and your work have real strengths. Your work is good. You are good.