Update 7/10/19. So you're a personal trainer looking for a job. Everybody has to start somewhere, right? You have a personal trainer job interview coming up and you don't know what to expect. You're nervous. If this is you, you're not alone. Don't worry. I'm going to help you. I've interviewed personal trainers, so let me try to reduce your stress level and help you prepare for what to expect. I will also show you how to outperform your competition too. Once you know the tips and tricks I'm going share, you will make a better first impression and be better equipped to land that personal trainer job.
Also, See These Too
- How to become a personal trainer
- How young can a personal trainer be?
- Too old to be a personal trainer?
- Certified but never trained anyone: what to do
- Can you smoke and be a personal trainer?
- Can you be a personal trainer with a criminal record?
- 15 personal trainer facts nobody tells you
- Violent crime in the gym
- Fitness center front desk staff. Need for better training
- Sexual harassment in the gym. What to do if it happens to you
- Do personal trainers have to look perfect?
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 with you (put it in a padfolio 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 don't 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 on 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 manager is looking to hire somebody. You are a worthwhile person and will be an asset to that facility, “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 you).
If the health club is a big chain gym (LA 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 Lalanne -everybody in fitness should know too.
Bottom line: employers take pride in their business and they like it when you know 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 even make half an effort, 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 the others who don't bring a resume (most people 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 you're serious about being a successful personal trainer, your resume should contain your website. If you don't have a website, it's 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? (I hate that question but do think about it)
- Why should we hire you for this job? (play to your strengths here)
- Why did you leave your last job? (be honest but don't trash your former employer)
This is 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.
The Dreaded Sales Question…
Here's a secret: big fitness really isn't interested in who you are certified by. They say they are but trust me, they really aren't. The thing they are MOST interested in is how much money you can make for them. They are a business and they want to make a profit.
Because of this, at big chain gyms (LA Fitness, Retro, 24-Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Equinox, etc) you will be asked questions like
- what do you know about sales?
- do you have any sales experience?
The personal training department is usually the biggest moneymaker in the gym. There are gyms making millions of dollars a month in personal training revenue. Because of this, a fitness trainer who understands sales is more valuable than someone who does not.
So how do you handle this situation?
If you are like most personal trainers, you probably have no experience in selling. That's OK.
When they ask you if you have any sales experience, instead of saying no, say something like this:
“While I have no formal experience in sales I do know the basics such as selling is all about helping people find solutions to their problems; my job is to be the best solution to their problem. I know people love to buy things and hate to be sold things. I know at the end of the day selling is about a relationship between buyer and seller.”
If you say something like this, you will have a better chance of getting hired.
But remember, after you get hired, you need to produce. Read my book on personal trainer marketing. I can save you a LOT of time and frustration and hopefully make you some money after you get that job.
What They Cannot Ask You During An Interview
During the interview, you cannot be asked about your age or if you are pregnant or your sexual orientation. That is discrimination, and it's against the law.
Also, see these posts:
Do You Have Any Questions?
Near the end of the interview, the employer will ask you this very important question: “Do you have any questions for me?” Most people say “no” -which is a huge mistake.
This is your moment to shine!
Ask questions! This will say to your prospective employer that you have actually thought about his/her organization and are truly interested in what they do.
Here are some power questions which will make you stand out:
- What is your philosophy of personal training? (i.e., to make money or help people)
- What does a “superstar” employee look like to you?
- How many members does the gym 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?
- 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 gym and the personal trainer? Tip: 50/ 50 is usually average.
- How do personal trainers obtain their clients? Do you have to get them yourself or does the sales department etc. feed clients to trainers?
- Are personal trainers only paid when doing personal training, or is there an hourly salary also?
- Do personal trainers with more fitness certs make more money per client?
- Are your fitness trainers employees or independent contractors? (If yes you should have personal trainer liablity insurance)
- Do I need personal trainer liability insurance?
Another question that I 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 newbies – don't know this. Unfortunately, the managers of health clubs are also GUILTY of never mentioning this fact to employees. 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 place you want to work at. I'm not kidding.
Most health clubs in America -and their staff – are woefully unprepared for a medical emergency.
Read my review of Gym Emergency Procedures for more insights. I have a LOT to say about this…
What About Background Checks?
Many fitness centers now do criminal background checks on new employees. If you have ever been convicted of a crime, this may be a source of anxiety. But it does not have to be. Read my review of how to handle criminal background checks for more information.
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 handwritten thank you letter to the person who interviewed you and mail it to them. Just a few sentences are 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 about 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!
Did You Get The Job?
What I outlined above are the high points of doing well in 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?”
After you get the job, I want you to get clients and be successful. Read my book 101 Personal Trainer Marketing Secrets and learn what I and others have done to get clients – and keep them.