Monday, March 29, 2010

Things to Bring to a Personal Trainer Job Interview

Question: I have a job interview at a commercial fitness center. It is my first interview for a personal training position and I really want the opportunity to work there. I left the corporate world in exchange for a career fulfilling my passion of fitness. The only thing is I don't really know what to bring with me to a job interview at a gym? What should I wear? Thanks!

Greensboro, NC

Answer: I love this question. I love it because I have served as a manager conducting the interviews AND I have served as the trainer receiving the interviews. So this question will be fun..but at the same time, it will be specific to what I have encountered and experienced in my years serving both roles.

You should always present yourself as a professional. That means being punctual, listening carefully, and maintaining contact. Sounds familiar right?  Nothing tangible will ever replace your presentation. With that being said, here are a few things you should bring to an interview:

1.) Resume. Always have a copy on hand.

2.) Portfolio or folder of some sort. Looking professional goes further than clothes. If you store your resume and other documents in a nice portfolio, not only are you organized, but you "show" that you are all business and professional. Remember, its about presentation.

Black Leather Writing Portfolio Cover

3.) Testimonials. If you are a veteran trainer looking for a change in atmosphere and you have a decorated background in training, bring those items. A manager most likely will not ask to see them, but towards the end of an interview, they will ask if you have anything "You want to add". This is your chance to open up and show them what results you have helped past clients achieve and how you can help their present members.

4.) References. Always have references on hand from (preferably) 3 professional sources. These are usually past employers. Again, if you have already trained clients you can also supply 3 references from "customer sources". However,  these should not replace professional references--they should only be in addition to. Professional references describe your work ethic, communication skills, punctuality, and professional repertoire. Customer references describe your genuineness, integrity, and social-ability.  

5.) Before and afters. If you have past clients and you have taken their before and after pictures for testimonials, this is a good time to share them. Only do this if the interview sways off the normal Q & A path, and you begin to talk about fat loss and client goals. Try not to extend the interview longer than the interviewer wants. That means if you are going to display your before and after client photos, do it briefly. Make sure you skip over your own physique photos.

6.) Journal or sales log. If you are aveteran trainer, its always a good idea to keep track of the client packages you've sold. Through the years, I have always logged my dollar sales for each new client, renewing client, or group sessions I have sold. Sharing this with a potential employer shows that you care about the business aspect of personal training; that you are a planner, and are attentive to your contribution to a facility's bottom line. Using a simple program like Excel should get you started with that if you haven't done so already.

A couple of don'ts...

Don't bring your gym bag
Don't wear your workout attire
Don't bring any type of equipment (believe it or not, I have had trainers bring an ab wheel to an interview to show me their "secret weapon")
Don't bring your cell phone or pager (or shut them off)
Don't bring or wear your iPod


  1. Nice tips for the interview. As a personal trainer I would like to tell you that the above tips are just great for a personal trainer's job. I exactly followed the above points.

  2. Great post John. It never ceases to amaze me how some people present for a job interview. I personally don't care about resume, references, sales etc if they don't present professionally.

    I recently was interviewing for a PT position in my studio. One female showed up in grubby blue jeans with a back pack. She then 1/2 way thru the interview pulled out a water bottle from her pack. Needless to say no hire.

    The second potential (young 20+ male) showed up dressed as a rapper with long baggy shorts and a baseball cap on sideways. He kept telling me how he couldn't find a job because he didn't have experience. Well, who would hire him.

    For some reason people think because they are applying for personal training jobs they can dress like gym rats?

    I have become a lot harsher now. If someone arrives looking like the two above, I don't even bother with the interview. I just send them on their way.

  3. One of the fastest growing trends in health and fitness today is the use of personal trainers.


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