- 15 June 2020
- 11 min read
Band 6 Nurse Job Interviews: 5 Common Questions And How To Answer Them
A Nurse Consultant offers a full guide and tips for all Band 5 nurses looking to succeed in an interview for a Band 6 job, including full answers to 5 of the most common Band 6 interview questions.
Topics covered in this article
The progression from a Band 5 Staff Nurse to a Band 6 Nurse can feel daunting.
The added responsibility and leadership skills required perhaps seem like a step away from patient care.
The very mention of the word “audit” or “governance” for nurses can induce sighs of “not more paperwork”.
However, Band 6 nursing posts offer rewards, clinical career progression and an opportunity for nurses to have more autonomy and authority.
Band 6 nursing varies from setting to setting, sometimes called Charge Nurse, Sister or Deputy Ward Managers in inpatient units, or Team leaders, Lead practitioners in the community.
In this article I will share some of the inside tips!
What do we look for in Band 6 Nurses? What questions will be asked?
Historically, you were required to spend time working as a Band 5 nurse before applying for a Band 6 post.
Job descriptions and person specifications would include a year working as a Band 5 nurse as essential for all applicants.
Nationally this has changed and there are some Band 6 posts available to newly qualified nurses if you are able to demonstrate the relevant experience.
Call me old fashioned but I do still value a good year to eighteen months working clinically as a Band 5 nurse in applicants.
Working as a newly qualified nurse allows you to gain invaluable clinical skills without the added tasks required as a Band 6.
Many settings offer excellent preceptorship support to newly qualified nurses and as an interviewer I can often tell the difference between nurses who have undertaken such programs in their first year and those who haven’t.
As a nurse, you will know when you are ready to progress to a Band 6 post.
My own experience was that I began to take a lead whilst a Band 5.
I was comfortable with leading team discussions, co-ordinating shifts and had started to think about new ideas to improve the clinical environment.
When you start to undertake roles and responsibilities which feel like they are beyond your scope of practice then you are ready to apply for a more senior post.
Preparation for interviews is essential.
Make sure you do lots of background reading and really understand the role you are applying for.
It is a good idea to contact the manager of the service where you are applying.
Ask to have a look around, spend time with current band 6 nurses and meet your potential team.
What preparation should I do for a Band 6 interview?
An excellent way to find out about the service you have applied for is to look at their website.
All NHS Trusts and private providers will have key documents available online.
Have a good look at recent developments, strategies, new policies and future plans.
Social media is also a great way to find out information, with many wards, trusts, services having Twitter accounts or Facebook pages.
Being shortlisted for an interview means that on paper you are able to do the job.
When applying, really go to town on your personal statement/supporting information.
If you meet the person specification, then you will be shortlisted.
Have the person specification in front of you and address each point.
Give an example of how you meet this in your current practice.
It is absolutely fine to use examples from your student training, previous work before you qualified or if there are gaps, write about training interests or development needs.
If you are offered an interview, the panel believe you can do the job, the key now is to do well during the interview!
So, what will you be asked at a Band 6 interview?
Of course, each job and service are different but there will likely be themes which you can prepare for.
Q1. “Tell us why you have applied for this job?”
Here is your opportunity to demonstrate your readiness for a Band 6.
Be honest, open and sell yourself!
Think about all the things you have done to prepare for working as a Band 6 and it is always a good idea to feedback to the interview panel the things you like about the service.
“I am really impressed with this trusts nursing strategy”, “I have met the team and really liked how they interacted with patients”, “I am ready to progress my career and feel this post offers excellent development opportunities”.
Being able to demonstrate an informed view of the post you are applying for always impresses me.
Q2. “What do you think are the main differences between a Band 5 and Band 6 post?”
This question is designed to see if you have an understanding of the role and added responsibilities of working at Band 6.
It will be different depending on the post but you need to be able to demonstrate that you are aware of leadership, governance, communication and managing tasks.
It is great if you can give real examples; have genuine experiences ready to talk about.
Perhaps a particularly difficult shift where you took the lead, a patient outcome you are proud of, times that you acted up as a Band 5 when no Band 6’s were around.
As you move forward in your career as a nurse, you will begin to be more exposed to the managerial structures within the NHS or private organisation.
In can often feel conflicting with clinical practice and contact with patients but healthcare is a system and you need to begin to familiarise yourself with the various parts which contribute to its functioning.
When I interview people for Band 6 posts, I will always include a question about governance.
Governance simply is healthcare’s way of knowing if we are doing well.
Via audits, services can monitor outcomes and benchmark against other services.
Q3.“Tell us about an improvement you made at work” or “How do you know you are doing well?”
You could talk about auditing care plans, supervision rates, assessments, waiting times or any other area you have been involved in regarding improving or monitoring.
If you have not undertaken any audits or service improvement, be creative!
Think about how you would in a new role, how would you go about auditing, measuring, monitoring and reporting.
The key is to demonstrate a wider awareness of the healthcare system and how you can contribute as a Band 6 nurse.
One of the key differences between band 5 and band 6 posts is the supporting of staff.
As a Band 6 nurse, junior colleagues will look to you for answers, they will rely on you for guidance, so it is a good idea to think about supervision and work force polices.
Again, give an example of how you have supported students or health care assistants in your current role.
As a Band 6 nurse you will begin to use more policies which are outside of the normal clinical practice.
Have a read before the interview of policies which relate to managing staff.
For example, disciplinary, annual leave, supervision, capabilities, bullying and harassment and recruitment.
Q4.“A staff member who you are supervising is consistently late for work, how might you go about dealing with this?”
You can then refer to various policies that you have read up on, considering supporting your colleague, informal processes and then more formal processes.
A perfect answer might sound something like:
“I would meet with the staff member and try and establish why they are late. There may be some support needs regarding childcare, travel, stress or anxiety. I would meet in supervision to discuss this. If they continued to be late, I may refer to their contract of employment or capability policy and remind them of contractual obligations. Throughout this process I would refer to Human Resources and speak to my manger about informal and formal processes”.
A further consideration for preparing for a Band 6 job is thinking about your progression as a nurse.
What does your future career look like? What are your areas of interest?
If you have worked as a Band 5 nurse, you may have developed particular clinical expertise or have begun to think about future training needs or further study.
Q5. “Can you tell us of any experiences which helped develop your identity as a nurse and promoted your interest?
As before, have examples you can draw upon.
I know in my early career there were patients I worked with who shaped the kind of nurse I wanted to be.
Complex, interesting, required me to think creatively and research a variety of interventions.
It may be that your area of clinical interest became more specialised as a result of working with a particular patient group.
Don’t be afraid to share what your career hopes are, I love to hear passion and commitment to nursing.
Lastly it is always positively received by interviewers if you come equipped with questions yourself.
Maybe you want to ask about development opportunities, what training will be on offer?
Try and find the balance between being teachable yet confident, ask about what support will be available as this is your first Band 6 post, like supervision, inductions and shadowing shifts.
It is difficult to feel fully prepared for any interview, as you will never know the exact questions you will be asked.
However, there are three golden rules for answering any interview questions which I have found useful over the years.
With any question think “what is this question asking?” so if it is a scenario about managing staff, say “ok, so this is about managing staff”.
Secondly always, and I mean always, give an example from your practice and thirdly, talk about how you would achieve this if you were appointed to this new role.
Gaining a Band 6 nurse post is an excellent career progression for any qualified nurse.
I remained as a Band 6 nurse for many years as it offered me the leadership and supportive responsibility as well as remaining directly involved in clinical patient care.