The dreaded fitness interview. If you have not already gone through this before, trust me, the day will come when you will sit across a table from somebody who asks you questions to see if you are a good fit for their gym. What questions will they ask during the interview? You’re in luck because I’ve not only been interviewed for fitness jobs —I’ve also done the interviewing! Your ability to answer these questions may make the difference between getting the job or not, so do your homework before the interview and think ahead at how you would answer these questions.
1. Why do you want to work for us?
Is this gym different from others in the area? If so, how? When you answer, stress how this health club is the best (what are the reasons?) and why that is what prompted you to apply for a position. Go to the gyms website and look at their mission statement (if they have one) or the “About” page and be sure to check out any testimonials that may be there. These will give you ideas about the gym that make it stand out. Also look at the gym’s Facebook page, Twitter page and Linkedin profile for more information on the gym.
One thing you don’t want to do is make the mistake I made one day, long ago when I was asked this question. I said, “because it’s easy.” Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.
2. What are your strengths?
Tell the person interviewing you some of your best attributes. Are you good with people? Do you have computer skills? Are you good at teaching self defense to women? Gym management wants to know what you bring to the table. Don’t be shy to tell them how great you are.
3. What are your weaknesses?
None of us are perfect. Give the person one or two things that you feel you can improve upon. Be sure to spin it like that too. In other words don’t say “I’m weak in….” Rather, say “I can improve upon…“ Saying it this way tell the person you are aware of the situation and know you need to do better at it. Tip. read personal trainer and have no experience for more information.
You might also want turn it around and ask the person doing the interview if there are any ways that the gym can help you improve upon those areas you are weak in.
Tip. Don’t tell them every perceived weakness you might have. Just one or two things is fine.
4. What can you tell me about our gym and how we are different?
Look at the website of the gym and try to get an idea of what they do that is unique than other gyms in the area. You might also want to play secret squirrel and go on the Facebook page of the gym and ask, “how are you guys different from gym X” and see what kind of answer you get.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years (work wise)?
This is kind of similar to question #6, but more short term. Look at where you are now and where you hope to be in the near future. Do you want to finish college (or go to college)? Is there a specific fitness cert you want to get (NSCA, ACSM, etc)? That’s the kind of stuff they’re looking for. You don’t have to be super specific with this (who among us really knows what the future holds?), just give them an idea of what your short term goals might be.
6. What are your goals in life?
Think about what you ultimately want to do. If you want to stay in the fitness industry, give them an idea of what you think you might like to do (e.g., open a gym, train a pro sports team, etc). This gives the person interviewing you an idea of how long you might be sticking around as well as the how they might use you moving forward.
7. Describe how you handled a difficult situation in the past
Before the interview, think of something from your past that was stressful or difficult and how you handled it. Was it a difficult client you had? Was it dealing with difficult trainers at your previous gym? The difficult situation you relate doesn’t have to be personal training-related either. When you talk about how you handled the situation, try to put a positive spin on it. This shows perspective employers that you are a problem solver.
8. Why do you deserve this position?
Sometimes managers who ask this question and trying to seek out go-getters; the people who take the bull by the horns and make things happen. In essence, they are looking to weed out shy people because they may not be good at getting clients in the gym. If you have experience, you can tout what you have done previously. Basically, brag about yourself if they ask this question. Tell them about your education, experience, special skills you have (boxing, boot camp training, etc). Even if the stuff is already on your resume, say it again.
9. Do you have any sales experience?
If you have sales experience —any experience —tell them about it. If you don’t, be honest about it, but tell them that you would be willing to learn from their sales staff if offered the job. Always try to spin the question so you look good. Here is a good book about selling personal training that focuses specifically on selling in the gym environment.
10. How much money do you want to make?
Personally, I feel YOU should be the person to ask this question first. I say this because if people are sheepish about salary, they may underbid what the gym might be willing to pay them. Don’t be shy about asking how much the job pays. You may think you need the job —and maybe you do —but the gym needs you too. Never forget that. At a lot of the big box gyms, trainers are in demand and they need you more than you need them. Don’t forget that.
11. Why did you want to become a personal trainer?
With this question they are trying to figure out how serious you are. One reason they ask this question is if you have a certification that they think is not up to their “standards.” In other words, they want to see if you got a “quick and easy” online cert just to “get certified” so that you could get a job.
Another reason they ask this is they want to hear “your story.” They can sometimes use your story of why you became a personal trainer to get an idea of what people you like and prefer to work with. A good story can sometimes get you the job.
12. How would you get clients if you worked for us?
This question will tell them how much of a go-getter you are. At some big box gyms they may give you clients but at others, you have to get them yourself. Because personal training represents a big chunk of the monthly revenue of a gym, some gyms only want to hire people who can add the most to their bottom line.
13. Tell me something about yourself that’s not on your resume.
Here, they are looking to get to know you better. Resumes only tell the basics. Have you done anything unique? Can you install a transmission in a car? Do you deliver toys to kids in the hospital at Christmas? I know someone who raises money for leukemia every year. If he reaches his donations goal, he shaves his head!
Tip. If the health club is going to preform a background check and you have a criminal record, its good to disclose it. Otherwise it looks like your hiding it. For more on this, see the post can you be a personal trainer with a criminal record?
14. Why did you leave your last job?
One reason why they might ask this question is to get an idea if you are going to be a trouble maker for their gym. Some gyms are afraid to fire people because then they have to pay the person unemployment. So, they would rather weed out bad apples ahead of time, and this question helps them do just that. If you left your last job on bad terms, try to spin it to your favor like, “I felt we were going in different directions.” (Be prepared to say “how” if you say this.).
If the gym you want to work at is considered to be a “higher-end gym” (like Canyon Ranch for example), tell them that you wanted to work at a place where you could expand your horizons and learn from the best as well as contribute in a meaningful way to others.
15. What is your philosophy of training?
When you do personal training with a client, what is your ultimate goal for them? Do you want all your clients to “get ripped” or is it your goal that they use what you teach them to live to 110 years old—and be healthy! Think about why you are in the fitness business. What gets you up in the morning and what keeps you going? When you know the answers to these questions, you will know your philosophy.
16. Have you applied at any other gyms?
Don’t be shy about answering this. If you have applied at other gyms —or plan on it —say so. Sometimes gym managers doing the interview think they hold all the cards, but if you have experience, a well respected cert, or bring a unique background to the table, they need you more than you think. By saying “yes, this week I plan on applying at…” you put them on notice that the clock is ticking for them to offer you the job. Bottom line. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket with only one gym. That said, if they don’t ask you this question first, don’t bring it up.
On the other hand, if you are currently employed and looking for a better opportunity, just say,“I’m considering a change and your gym was the first on my list.”
17. Are you willing to work weekends or stay late if needed?
They want to know what hours you prefer to work (if any) and to see if you are a team player. Sometimes clients won’t show up on time and you may need to stay late. They want to know what you are willing to do —and not to —do secure the position.
18. What do you expect from us, if you are hired?
Besides getting a regular salary, is there anything you’d like to get from your association with this gym? Some possible answers to this question can include:
- Gain experience as a personal trainer
- Broaden my horizons and knowledge
- I expect the gym to pay for at least 2 continuing educational seminars per year
- Health insurance (good luck unless you are hired as a manager)
- Learn from and interact with the diverse group of trainers already on staff
By giving management an idea of what you expect from them, you are also saying that you take the personal training industry seriously and plan on sticking around for the long haul.
19. Give me reasons why somebody would want to hire a personal trainer.
One rule of sales you should remember is that people “buy the benefits of products and not the product themselves. Why do people wait in line for days to buy the latest iPhone? Because Apple is “cool.” If you have the latest iPhone, you’re cool too! Why are sexy girls used to sell cars? If you buy that car, you might also get the girl. So, your job here is to tell the interviewer some of the benefits of using a personal trainer. You need to know these so learn them. If you can work in a personal story of how you helped somebody, even better.
20. Do you have any questions for me?
This is usually the final question they ask you. A lot of people —especially those new to the industry—sheepishly say “no” but I think this is your time to shine. As you are researching the gym, ask yourself questions about them. Some possible answers that you might give include:
1. When do you think you’ll reach a decision on who you will hire?
2. How much is the salary?
3. How many personal trainers do you currently have on staff?
4. Who are your other personal trainers certified by?
5. Is there room for growth? If yes, can you give me some idea of how I might expand my role with the gym in the future?
6. What are the demographics of your members? In other words, are they older adults, moms with kids, college students? What’s the average age of the member (Tip. most people who hire personal trainers are women over the ages of 35-40).
7. Has the gym ever had an emergency? Can you show me the emergency procedures of the club to be followed?
This last point— about seeing the emergency procedures— I feel is particularly important because odds are you would be the only person to ask this question. That will make you stand out in the eyes of the gym management. Bad stuff happens in gyms all the time. I feel that most gyms in the US are very unprepared for medical emergencies. Showing them that you are prepared goes a long way to you getting the job. For more info read my thoughts on Health Club Emergency Procedures.
How about you?
Have you already interviewed at a gym? Planning to? Please leave your comments and questions below.
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