So you’re a personal trainer looking for a job. You have a personal trainer job interview coming up and you don’t know what to expect. If this is you, you’re not alone, but don’t worry. I’ve interviewed personal trainers before so let me try to demystify the job interview process so you are better prepared, know what to expect and improve your chances of getting that personal trainer job. After you read this, also see my post How to Be a Personal Trainer, where I give you advice on how to get into the business.
How do I get a personal trainer job?
Before you get to the interview, you have to set it up right? Well maybe. For a lot of people, getting a job in fitness may be as easy as walking in the door of your gym and having the fitness director say “do you want to be a personal trainer?” I know that sounds odd, but trust me, that’s pretty much what happens at a lot of big chain gyms. In fact it’s basically what happened to me too! But, for a lot of other people, they have to go and search for a personal training job, so let’s now talk about some job interview steps to success to improve your chances of landing that job in fitness you’re looking for.
Getting a fitness job. How to do it?
If you are looking to get a job as a personal trainer at a gym, odds are you probably have a few health clubs in mind that you want to apply to. This is what I suggest you do. Have your resume in hand (put it in a pad folio for safe keeping) and walk into the gym and ask to speak to either the:
- General Manager (GM) or the Fitness Director
These are the people who have the ability to hire personal trainers or to schedule an interview.
If you dont have a resume, here are my resume steps to success.
If neither the GM or Fitness Director is around, ask to speak to the Manager on Duty (“MOD”). This is basically the shift manager who is in charge of things when nobody else is around. They can probably either set up the interview or give you information about when the people in charge are around who can help you.
Sometimes you may be asked to complete an employment application right on the spot or you may be asked to come back another day to meet with the manager and complete an application.
If you are told to return at another day, make sure you show up on time for the interview. Being punctual says to the gym manager that you are serious.
If you have several gyms that you are interested in, apply to all of them and then choose the position that’s best for you. This way you don’t have to wait for any single gym to call you back.
The fitness job interview process
Most people get stressed when they go into the interview but they shouldn’t be. Think of it this way: The gym is looking to hire somebody and you are a worthwhile person and will be an asset to the gym so, “why not you!”.
Seriously, be proud of yourself and believe in yourself. To help you along, here are some sure fire job interview tips to help you outshine your competition and make a great impression.
Look at the gym website
I’ll bet the gym you want to work at has a website. Look it over and get a feel for what the gym is about. If there is a list of personal trainers on the site, look them over and take notice of their specialties and certifications (and how they compare to yours).
If the health club is a big chain gym (Retro Fitness, Planet Fitness, etc.), try to find out statistics about the health club – how many gyms are out there, the mission statement of the health club, what kind of equipment is used, health club trivia, the name of the CEO etc.
For example, if you are applying at Bally Total Fitness, you better know who Jack Lallanne is – since he had a BIG role in the creation of Ballys.
Bottom line: employers take pride in their business and they like it when you know about what they do.
Dress appropriately for the job interview
Sure, as a rule, personal trainers have a pretty casual dress code but that doesn’t mean you should go into the interview wearing jeans. I suggest you wear something like shoes, khakis, and a nice buttoned shirt.
Unless you are interviewing to be a fitness director or general manager of a health club, I don’t think you need to wear a suit – unless the personal trainer job you are looking to get is at a ritzy, high class facility like Canyon Ranch etc.
For a lot of personal trainers, dressing for an interview can be a pain in the butt but trust me, this will help you stand out. Most people who are interviewing for the job will not dress for the occasion. So, if you do it, the employer will remember you!
The fitness resume
If you don’t have a fitness resume, create one. It doesn’t have to be fancy and if this is the first personal trainer job you hope to get, odds are, you won’t have much work experience. That’s ok. The fact that you bring a personal trainer resume to the interview will help you outshine all the others who don’t bring a resume (most won’t).
I have already written about how to make a resume so read that for specific information and details. Remember to keep the resume to about 1 page at the most. Employers are just looking for a summary of your experience and expertise. They will often ask you questions about what’s in the resume anyway, so summarize everything.
If your serious about being a successful personal trainer, your resume should contain your website. If you don’t have a website, its easy; just follow these steps and you’ll have a website in about an hour.
Fitness job interview questions
What questions will you be asked during a personal trainer job interview? I covered this stuff in chapter 12 of my book on personal training so if you have that book, check it out for more info. If not, let me try to give you a heads up on some of the most common questions people get asked on job interviews – fitness job interviews too.
I suggest you think about these questions and come up with answers ahead of time. That way you don’t get blindsided during the interview. Trust me, some of these interview questions WILL come up.
- Why do you want to work for us? You WILL be asked this!
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why should we hire you for this job?
- Why did you leave your last job?
This is actually pretty important stuff. I don’t want you to stumble over your words during the interview, so please do think about the answers to these questions. I suggest you write your answers out and say them in front of a mirror a few times so they seem natural.
Do you have any questions?
At or near the end of the fitness job interview, the employer will ask you this very important question: “Do you have any questions for me?”. Most people say “no” but this is a huge mistake. This is your moment to shine!
Do ask questions because this will say to your perspective employer that you have actually thought about his/her organization and are truly interested in what they do.
Where do you get these questions from? Well, for one, checking the health club website can bring up all sorts of questions about the organization.
A few questions you might also want to ask include:
- What is your philosophy of personal training?
- How many members does the health club have?
- What’s the average age of a member of the health club?
- What do you feel is the biggest issue facing your fitness department today?
- How many clients does your average personal trainer have?
- How many clients does your average personal trainer see per day?
- What is the split in revenue between the club and the personal trainer? Tip 50/ 50 is usually average.
- How do personal trainers obtain their clients?
- Are personal trainers only paid when doing personal training or is there an hourly wage also?
- Do personal trainers with more fitness certs make more money per client?
Another question that I highly recommend you ask during the personal training interview is “what are your emergency procedures?” I guarantee that you will probably be the only person who EVER asked that question!
By asking this important question, it shows to the gym manager that you are thinking about what enviably WILL happen at the gym. Sometimes people get injured – and unfortunately, sometimes people die - during exercise.
Most personal trainers – especially those who are new to personal training – don’t know this. Unfortunately, the managers of health clubs are also GUILTY of never mentioning this fact either.
As a result, new personal trainers are totally caught off guard when something bad happens at the gym. Be prepared!
If anybody had ever asked me “what are your emergency procedures?” I would have hired them on the spot because that is someone who I could depend on if, God forbid, that terrible day happened.
Obviously if you ask this question about health club emergency procedures, you should have a CPR / AED certification so you can look good to the gym manager.
If the manager says “That’s a good question! I don’t know what the emergency procedures are” then this may not be a health club that you want to work at. I’m not kidding.
Most health clubs in America -and their staff – are woefully unprepared for a medical emergency.
After the fitness job interview
This is another great way to outshine all the other people applying for the fitness position. When you get home from the interview, write a hand written thank you letter to the person who interviewed you and mail it to them. Just a few sentences is fine for the letter. For example you might say:
Dear Mr. Hastings,
Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the position of personal trainer at Fitness Club One. I will look forward to learning of your decision and hopefully working with you in the near future.
Sign your name
Remember, don’t email this to the person. Mail it! Also it’s very important to write the letter out – DON’T type the letter.
Hand-written Thank You say to employers that you took the time to do it – and that speaks volumes about you!
Those basically the high points of doing well on a job interview. If you remember these points I am pretty sure you will make a good first impression and have a better chance of getting that personal training job, than people who just walked in the door of the health club and asked “are you hiring personal trainers?” Also see my post on how to be a personal trainer for more information as well as my post on how to get clients using Craigslist.
What do you think?