Stefan Hagemann with advice on how to answer a professor, but really on how to answer anyone:
Be interested in a lot of things: Some questions are designed to test your command of a set of facts, and some leave little room for interpretation. Once in awhile, a question might even permit a “yes” or “no” answer. But often you’ll be dealing with open-ended questions, ones about which there is much to say and from many angles. Recognize that most open-ended questions range across academic disciplines and areas of interest, and do your best to develop a good grasp of the world around you. Good question-answerers read widely, talk to their peers and professors, attend on-campus events such as plays and concerts, and (I’m guessing here) subscribe to PBS and NPR. Good question-answerers also listen. If you know a little bit about the world around you and make an effort to experience your immediate environment, you may be surprised by your ability to add outside knowledge to your answers. Broad experience equals (or at least increases the chance for) serendipity.
In the spirit of school approaching, Stefan’s full list on how to answer a professor:
- In the spirit of serious inquiry
- With honesty
- From a position of power
- Be interested in a lot of things
- Pay attention to how others do it
- With panache
Would love to hear an answer that uses all of them in the same sentence.