Updated 22nd December 2022
You’ve got your personal training certification, applied for a job, and been invited to interview. Congratulations! This is your chance to show the employer you have the skills and personality to be a great personal trainer.
How do you prepare for a personal trainer interview? Below we’ve outlined our top interview tips covering the most common queries newly qualified PTs have going into their first interview.
Table of contents
- How do I prepare for a personal trainer job interview?
- Do I need a personal training qualification to get an interview?
- Do personal trainers need to know about current fitness trends in an interview?
- Personal trainer interview questions – what will they ask?
- What questions should I ask in a personal training interview?
- Interview attire – What to wear for a personal trainer interviews
- How to build rapport in a PT interview
- Do personal trainer interviews generally have a practical test?
- What else do I need to consider for a PT interview?
- Recommendations from the professionals.
How do I prepare for a personal trainer interview?
Once you have been formally offered an interview, you should start your research. A complete understanding of the specific organisation and its product will help you stand out. This will allow you to demonstrate a deep understanding of what the company does, the personal training services it offers, and its culture. Here are the top 5 things to research before you have that interview:
The organisation’s history
It is always a good idea to research a gym/studio’s history before a job interview, as you can get valuable insights into its values, culture, and overall direction. Some specific things you may want to learn about a company’s history include:
- How long has the company been in business?
- How has the company evolved over the years?
- What significant milestones or accomplishments has the company achieved?
- How has the company’s culture and values developed over time?
Knowing the answer to these questions can help you better understand the company and how it operates, which can help you decide whether or not the company is a good fit for you. Additionally, showing an interest in the company’s history can demonstrate to the interviewer that you are serious about the position and have done your research.
The organisation’s culture
Before an interview at a gym, it is a good idea to research the culture in order to gain a better understanding of the company and what it values. Taking time to learn about their philosophy and overall approach towards fitness, you can better tailor your answers to the questions they ask.
The type of clients
Gyms and personal training studios can have a range of clients depending on where they are located and their target demographic, are they a boutique studio targeted busy professionals, are they a large commercial gym with regular gym goers looking to lose weight and improve their fitness or do they mainly cater to fitness professionals looking to improve performance. By knowing their target customers you can think about what previous experience you have and how you might design a training session for their ideal client.
Are they a personal training studio who only offer 1-1 sessions or do they offer group classes? Are they a standard gym where personal training is a service with an additional charge. By knowing what a gym sells, you can get a better idea of what your role might be. For example, gyms that offer PT as a service separate from membership may require you to sell your services to members to generate your own new clients and gyms that offer group sessions may require you to teach a certain number of classes as part of your contract.
Look at their website, get an idea of the kind of brand they are, do they have a mission statement? The vision of a gym can help differentiate it from its competitors and give it a unique identity. This can give you a better idea if it’s the kind of place you’d like to work and if you’d be a good fit for them.
On top of these, you should think carefully about what terms you are looking for, how many hours you’re willing to work, and how you would market yourself on the gym floor. These are all common areas that you are likely to get asked about.
Do I need a personal training qualification to get an interview?
In short, yes. A reputable gym or personal training studio will only hire candidates who have the relevant recognised personal training certifications and qualifications. Hiring non-qualified individuals could damage their reputation and invalidate their insurance in the case of an accident.
Being able to show that you have the relevant certificates shows that you have invested in your development, staying at the cutting edge of fitness training knowledge and are taking the role and your career seriously.
Do personal trainers need to know about current fitness trends in an interview?
The fitness industry changes rapidly, and while knowing the fundamentals is vital, it’s essential to recognise that the industry often follows trends and fads and to show that your knowledge is up to date by knowing what is currently popular.
If you are a newly certified personal trainer, you might need to gain experience to know what these are; fortunately, it’s easy to research with social media like Instagram and TikTok, a wealth of information on the latest trends.
Personal trainer interview questions – what will they ask?
Employers looking to fill a personal trainer position will want to know that whoever they employ will help them be more successful. They will ask what you can offer them. Come up with answers for this. What makes you the best candidate for THEM. Consider your strengths and previous experiences. What is your unique selling point, and how will you bring them success.
This may be asked in the form of different questions, but they effectively ask the same thing: Why should we employ you? Have examples of difficult situations you have experienced and how you have used initiative to solve them. How have you gone above and beyond in previous roles (this isn’t specific to a personal training role, so don’t worry, you can use examples from other jobs)? These are the things the employer wants to see, how you can deliver excellent personal training service to help them progress as a company.
Specific questions might include:
- Tell me about your experience as a personal trainer.
- How long did it take you to complete your personal training certification?
- Do you have any other fitness certifications?
- What do you think makes a great personal trainer?
- Why do you want to work for our company?
- Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult client.
- What is the most essential quality for a successful personal trainer?
- What do you think sets your services apart from other personal trainers?
- Do you have any questions for us?
What questions should I ask in a personal training interview?
Asking questions about the gym you’re interviewing with should demonstrate your interest in the role and that you’ve done your research. You don’t want to ask anything that you should already know the answer to. Have questions preplanned but try and find the answers yourself first – asking basic questions that can be quickly found on the company’s website could reflect on you negatively. If answers can’t be found easily, they might be a good question to ask. Think of questions that will make you look interested in being a team player. It would be best if you base your questions around areas such as;
- Duties and requirements
- Office/corporate structure
- Company culture
- Company vision and aspirations
Interview attire – What to wear for a personal trainer interviews
One of the first questions we get asked by our course attendees when we discuss the next steps after they have qualified is, “what should PTs wear to interviews?
Some guides recommend smart business clothing, taking your gym clothes to change if needed, and some say to wear your workout clothes. The best thing to do is to call or email and ask what is appropriate – they may prefer you to wear your gym wear if there is a practical assessment and time is short – removing the requirement to change.
Whether you wear your workout kit to the interview or change while there, ensure that it’s clean and keep it simple: workout shorts or trousers, a well-fitted T-shirt, and clean, comfortable workout shoes.
How to build rapport in a PT interview
As a personal trainer, it’s incredibly important to have the interpersonal skills to make connections with people and to be able to keep clients motivated. You demonstrate your communication skills in the interview process with the following techniques.
Show interest and empathy
The hiring manager/interviewer wants to know that you have empathy and can relate to your clients. Make sure to listen intently and ask questions about the job, so they get a sense of your enthusiasm. Expressing genuine interest in their gym will also show that you did your research before the interview.
Make eye contact
A lack of eye contact can be interpreted as disinterest or even shyness, so ensure that your eyes stay focused on the interviewer throughout the entire conversation. This will demonstrate confidence in yourself and your abilities while respecting other people’s opinions and ideas.
Be aware of your body language
As well as maintaining good eye contact, your body language must reflect enthusiasm, energy, and dynamism – qualities vital for a personal trainer role! Sit straight, smile often and use open gestures such as palms facing upwards when speaking – this will help create a positive impression of yourself.
Sell Your Story. Many other candidates likely have similar qualifications or experience, so it’s crucial to find ways of selling yourself over others! Share stories about particular clients or successes from past roles – these real-life examples will help demonstrate why hiring you is a great choice!
Express your personal values
As a personal trainer, you must understand what drives you personally when helping others achieve their fitness goals – this should show during an interview. Be honest with yourself when answering questions related to motivation – doing this will help shape how an interviewer sees you in terms of being suitable for their role.
Do personal trainer interviews generally have a practical test?
Not always, but generally, yes. At the very least, the interviewer will want you to give a detailed outline of a workout plan, but they will likely want to see your ability to coach and engage with clients and that you will positively influence the gym floor – something much more suited to a practical test. They will be looking for:
- How you conduct yourself?
- How you put the information across?
- Do you come across as a confident professional?
- Is your information correct?
- Are you focused and engaging with the client?
- Are you structured and logical with your engagement?
- Do you have good people skills?
These are just some aspects the employer will be looking for. Make sure you are fully prepared to show off your practical abilities. They will not be interested in how much you can hip thrust or bicep curl; they will be interested in whether you can communicate effectively with potential clients and positively influence the company and its values.
What else do I need to consider for a PT interview?
If you have already worked as a PT, take a small number of your best client testimonials (three or four is fine, respect the interviewer’s time) to show you can deliver results.
A sales plan
In many personal training roles, getting your own clients is an essential part of the job. Have a brief outline of how you would approach speaking to people on the gym floor and how you might sell your services as a PT.
If you’re late to an interview, you might have scuppered your chances before you even start. Plan your route and how you will get there, and aim to arrive early. Unless the gym is located somewhere with nothing else around, plan how you can turn up well in advance. Sitting in a nearby coffee shop and reviewing your notes is a fantastic preparation and gives you a buffer so you’re not late if the unexpected happens.
Remember to thank them
At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer and then when you get home, follow up with an email thanking them for your time and making yourself available for any follow-up questions they might have.
Recommendations from the professionals
TRAINFITNESS tutor Alan Morton recommends; “Be enthusiastic. Show that you are keen but tread the fine line between enthusiasm and coming across as disingenuous. One excellent strategy to appear eager would be to arrive early and make small talk with people already working in the company. Get a feel for the company before the interview. During the personal training interview, ensure you demonstrate you will be easy to work with. Show that you’ve been paying attention but most importantly, relax and be yourself.”