Got a big interview coming up and want to know what personal trainer interview questions are likely coming your way?
More importantly, do you want to find out how to answer those questions without pause or hesitation?
Great, you’re in the right place….
Whether you’re a newly qualified fitness professional, or you’re already established in the industry and are looking for a new challenge, our extensive list of personal training interview questions and answers will hold you in good stead.
So let’s jump right in!
Always start with a mystery shop
Mystery shopping a gym prior to attending a personal trainer interview is a must, especially if you have never stepped foot in what might be your next workplace.
With that in mind, you have a few options…
Think about booking a tour of the gym, purchasing a pay-for-a-day pass, or better still, paying for a personal training session to get a scope of your future competition.
All of these are great ideas to put you ahead of the competition. Here’s why:
Now you might be wondering, how exactly do you make the most of your mystery shopping questions…
Well, here are some key questions you can weave into your mystery shop to get some answers that will help you later on in your personal trainer interview:
- How many personal trainers work here?
- How does the personal training structure work? (Think specifically in terms of payment structures and ground rent)?
- How much is the gym membership?
- What help and support do personal trainers get from the gym?
- Do the personal trainers work shifts or is it fixed hours?
What the experts had to say…
In an interview, try not to get bogged down in ticking boxes and showing off your experience in a way that is too formulaic.
Let your passion shine through: what attracted you to this industry and why specifically personal training?
Check out what one of our experts had to say when we asked her about her career motivations…
Sports Direct – Louise Crossland – National Fitness Manager
Q. What motivated you in life to become a personal trainer?
“I just love the vast array of personal situations, stories and reasons people give for taking up this vocation. Whether it’s a family member who has been diagnosed with diabetes or because they have embarked on a personal pilgrimage to lose weight, clients’ stories are full of heartfelt reasons for getting into fitness, and it is this connection with motivated people that I look for in my career.”
Personal Trainer Interview – FAQs and Insider Tips
Before we delve into templates for personal trainer interview questions and answers, let’s have a look at some of the key tips to getting your interview off to a winning start.
Over years of giving careers advice to our level two gym instructing, and level three personal training students, we have built up a pretty good idea of the concerns and questions of candidates going into interviews.
Even better for you, having coached our students in the best personal trainer interview practice, we have seen many of them flourish into successful personal trainers and fitness instructors.
Below then, are the top six questions we are asked (along with all of our best tips and tricks for overcoming those early nerves!)
What should I wear to a personal trainer interview?
Please do not wear gym clothes to a personal training interview.
Although many companies do not mind, some really do. Therefore, opting for smart business attire is the best option.
It is, however, advisable to bring gym gear with you to your personal trainer interview. More often than not, unless your interviewer specifically outlines that you will be required to take part in a practical demonstration, you will not be expected to have spare kit with you.
But it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
How should I prepare for a personal trainer interview?
Before attending a personal training interview, many personal trainers think they are primarily going to be asked questions either in relation to their course, or to their specific training methods.
Actually, this is far from the truth.
We have found that most questions revolve around building your business. This can include direct questions about sales, marketing and promotion.
If you do not possess a sales background, do some industry research on how you would develop relations with clients, and how you would sell and market to them. You may also want to mention how you intend to build a client base, and how you would retain that client base over a one year time scale.
Research the brand of the company you are having the fitness instructor or personal training interview with. Here are just a few elements you should know prior to attending:
The more detail you provide the better!
When preparing for personal training interview questions, it is also worth bearing in mind that most of the information you need can be found online.
You heard right: by simply checking out the job description of the role you are applying for, you can anticipate a number of the key skills and attributes they will ask about in your interview.
See below for an annotated job description from Sports Direct, one of our corporate partners, and what an interviewer might ask you related to the advert.
Highlighted in orange are all the key factors an interviewer might be interested in.
Notice how many of them aren’t directly related to personal training and fitness qualifications?
Your soft skills, and how you present yourself as a future employee, are crucial, so you need to prepare to talk about your attributes with confidence and ease.
Should I bring my fitness certificates or a portfolio with me?
Bring your fitness industry certificates with you to your interview. If you have any client testimonials, bring those too in order to support your expertise.
Bringing proof of your qualifications and experience achieves a couple of things.
First off, it demonstrates how seriously you are taking the position in question, and your career as a whole. Again, this shows an employer that you have a hireable personality, in addition to all the paper qualifications they are looking for.
And secondly, it proves that you have a track record in terms of delivering a high level of customer satisfaction. Nothing acts as a better reference for your service than the personal success stories of your clients, so don’t be afraid to show them off!
If there was one thing to look out for, it would be time constraints. You can’t bring all of your clients to the table, so choose your best ones, and make sure you can talk about them in detail if questioned.
How should I respond to personal trainer interview questions? – Dos and Don’ts
Above anything, try and be yourself. Personable answers that respond honestly will always trump reading from a script.
However, if you were nervous about any of the questions you might receive, try out a couple of these techniques.
What body language should I be aware of when attending an interview?
Just like paying attention to your answers and manner of speaking, paying attention to your body language and demeanor can bring great rewards.
The interviewer will expect you to be nervous, it’s only natural. However, by taking the time to steady yourself, you can really make a great first impression, which may even result in you being the selected candidate.
Should I ask questions at the interview? If so, what is appropriate to ask?
Yes, always ask questions!
Interviewers expect you to ask questions, and if you leave the interview not fully knowing everything about the job role to which you are applying, then don’t expect them to give you a call.
Asking questions demonstrates your interest for the role and shows the employer that you are prepared for the personal trainer interview.
Having a couple of pre-empted questions is a good idea, but also try and take some notes from points that the interviewer briefly touched upon during the interview, which you can delve in on and find out more information.
This also shows that you were paying attention and enthusiastic to learn more about the role.
Here are some questions you could ask:
Personal Trainer Interview: Questions and Answers
We’ve covered some of the major FAQs of personal trainer interviews, and how you can avoid getting yourself in a sticky situation.
So now it’s time for the important stuff.
What questions are you likely to get asked, and how are you going to answer them…
Below, you can find the most frequently asked questions at personal trainer interviews, as well as how we’d approach answering them from our years of experience in the fitness industry.
Q: What do you like doing outside of work?
This is a very common personal trainer interview question. In fact, it is one that we open all of our interviews with, as it immediately establishes exactly who it is that you’re talking to.
Let’s cover some big don’ts that interviewers hate to hear:
The interviewer wants to find out if you have some depth to your personality. Are you somebody they want to work with?
Give answers that make you unique and show off the depth of your personality. Be as specific as you can with your answers (e.g. I play guitar to a grade 7 level and love playing acoustic folk music, in particular).
Or, I started taking Spanish lessons on my weekends and have my verbal assessment next month.
Or, I am a member of my local squash club which is based in Norwich and I play three times per week.
Or, I regularly visit local art galleries and just visited The Bluecoat in Liverpool where I bought a print from a local artist called James Miller.
And so on, you get the idea.
Q: What did you cover within your personal training course?
You should all know this, but to recap:
Be concise. Be clear. Get straight to the point.
The interviewer doesn’t want a story here, they just want to check you are fully qualified.
Q: Tell me about your previous experience as a personal trainer?
Remember you are going to be competing with other personal trainers for the same roles, and they might have more experience in terms of years.
This doesn’t have to be a nail in the coffin of your chances, though.
You should always refer to the transferrable skill sets that you possess, especially ones that you feel are relevant for the role. While doing this, always give examples from previous employment or life experiences, and then relate to how such skills could be employed in a personal training context.
You can find the desired skills sets in the job description and match your transferrable skills to what your potential future employer is looking for. Here is an example:
Time Management skills: In my last job role as a personal assistant, I played a key role in the Managing Director’s day to day running of his business appointments, ensuring he was on time for important meetings and scheduling around his existing timetable. This required me to use my initiative and make difficult calls under pressure.
I firmly believe this skill set applies to the offered role, as I would be able manage both my personal client timetable, in addition to hosting group sessions on behalf of the gym. My experience handling money also means I can make sure paying clients are top of my agenda, leaving subsequent time to sell, market, and promote my services.
Other skills you might want to reference:
Q: How would you grow your client base?
Be specific with your answers, particularly with regard to the ways you would market to clients. It is also music to an interviewer’s ears if you say that you want to go on a sales / marketing course to enhance these skills if you are not strong on these areas.
Here are some strategies and tips you might want to mention to impress your future employer:
- Use the sales team (if they have one) to get a list of the new joiners and invite them to have a complimentary gym session. If they don’t have a sales team, the reception, administrative staff, or owner should have a database of such contacts.
- Run a free nutrition seminar to showcase your knowledge and skills.
- Talk to clients at busy times on reception to fully engage with them. Offer free advice and check up on gym-member who seem to be struggling.
- Use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to bring new faces to the gym through personal training offers
- Start your own class in order to familiarise yourself with the customers of your new gym.
- Create your own personal training poster and place in the most prominent places in the gym to increase brand visibility.
- Create mini-fitness workshops such as a kettlebell courses, to engage members, improve their fitness, and create rapport with potential clients.
- Lead exchange with local businesses
- Create a client referral programme and rewards scheme for your services
- Use every class as an opportunity to promote and sell your services.
Q: What are your career goals?
Never restrict your answer to the offered role. This shows a lack of ambition, and also suggests that, if you got the job, it would be as far as you can go as a professional.
As opposed to reassuring the interviewer that you would be loyal, this kind of answer may lead them to believe that you would have no incentive to work hard or develop as a personal trainer.
This question is therefore a test of ambition, but an employer also wants to hear realistic and authentic answers. Do not say how you want to be the CEO in the next 5 years…it’s just not going to happen.
Equally, don’t say that you want to use this job to develop skills in order to have a dream career with a direct competitor.
Try something industry related, and that reflects the persona of an upward-striver:
Q: How would your former employee describe you?
This is trickier than it might seem at first.
Even if you do not like your former employer or job, you can’t be negative, or indicate that you left in bad blood.
You need to show some evidence that you performed well, and that your choice to leave was for reasons related to career progression.
- Refer to performance reviews or appraisals with exact quotes or something that you can evidence.
- Refer anecdotally to an instance where you exceeded expectations. Perhaps you initiated a new sales strategy and received a pay rise as a result.
- Name your strengths or positive traits with examples and demonstrations of these, don’t just list three without backing them up.
- Equally, name areas where you have been willing to learn. Showing that you were willing to expand your skillset is a key trait that an employer will look for.
Q: How do you plan to keep your knowledge of fitness and health up to date?
Again, this is a question that requires direct answers. You can show a little ambition, but it’s best to keep your answers short and to the point.
- Refer to Continuous Professional Development Courses (CPDs).
- Mention how you already conduct your own research using journals and scientific studies, and would continue to do so in the current role. Remember, be specific: name some studies!
- Refer to what other trainers might be doing better than you and a system you could put in place to improve this.
Q: How would you define great customer service?
Answers for good customer service always need to be skill focused and backed up with an example from your experience as a customer, or as the employee giving that level of service:
Skills prominent with good customer service:
Q: What weaknesses do you possess? (Often re-phrased as what would your former employer say are your biggest areas that you need to improve)
Use weaknesses that can also be interpreted as strengths, as well as giving an authentic weakness, but crucially one that you are aware of and are putting systems in place to improve.
Weaknesses to strengths:
- I can often take on too much responsibility because…..
- I sometimes forget to delegate work to others because….
- I can get stressed when I miss a target or deadline because…
An example of a genuine weakness, and how you are working towards improving it.
- I sometimes get too invested in training, to the detriment of balancing other responsibilities… I am fixing this by taking on group classes and ensuring my schedules are mixed with client work and marketing responsibilities.
Q: How would you build rapport with a prospective client?
Rapport building is the most important element to being a great personal trainer. Customers only buy from people they like, and who they feel engaged with.
Your answer to this personal trainer interview question should revolve around what you could give to a client to improve their fitness, or how you would find common ground with a member to develop rapport.
- Asking the gym member how their training is going
- Offering to prep their shake for them
- Giving them a towel for their workout
- Asking them if they need a spot
- Inviting them to take part in a gym challenge
- Inviting them to an educational workshop
- Offering to give them a free nutrition plan
Q: How would you motivate a client?
This question is where most personal trainers jump straight in to what techniques they would use to get the most out of their clients during a session.
And, in truth, that wouldn’t make for a bad answer.
The only problem is is that they are missing the trick as to what you should do both prior to a session and after it, in order to get your client motivated outside of the gym.
Firstly, explain to the interviewer that motivation comes in three stages:
- Before Gym Sessions
- During the delivery of the session
- How you set them up for their next session
Q: Give me a time when you have had a target to hit and how you achieved that target?
Give the interviewer a specific example of when you have had a target that you surpassed. This can be an operational, compliance, or sales target within previous employment.
Explain how you broke that target down (e.g. if it was a monthly sales target) into weekly, daily, and hourly mini targets to make the overall target more manageable.
Q: How would you handle a client complaint about the gym you are working for?
In our opinion, the best way to deal with complaints is to be process-based.
Never react on emotion. Have a plan, and tell the interviewer how it will help you deal with the complaint.
Try something along the lines of:
- Always acknowledge the complaint
- Try and solve the complaint as it is raised, if possible
- If it’s out of your jurisdiction, report the complaint to a manager on the customer’s behalf
- Let the customer know who you have reported it to, and the expected time frame for hearing back
- Check in with the customer at the next opportunity to see if the issue was successfully resolved
Q: What makes you a good team player?
Always answer this personal training interview question with an example.
This makes it far easier to explain exactly what it is that makes you a social employee, as well as a competent one.
Q: What are the top three exercises that you feel are most beneficial to a client and why?
This question is purely to test whether you can justify the benefit of a type of exercise for different clients.
You should always start by saying there is no exercise that can be applied to all clients blindly, and that you would have to take into consideration their past experience in the gym, current levels of fitness, age, medical issues, past and current injuries, in addition to their goals and fitness ambitions.
You can then go on to either explain a specific example, or case study client, or give exercises that, in your experience, are suitable for the widest pool of clients:
Although there is not a one size fits all approach for any exercise, due to large variables from one person to another, my go-to exercises are squats, deadlifts, and clean and press.
The reason I have chosen those three exercises is that they are resistance-based compound movements, which help boost metabolic rate, improve blood flow, muscle tone, and build using multiple muscle groups. They are also suitable for most client’s fitness goals, such as fat loss, muscle tone, or muscle gain.
Q: Name an occasion where you displayed great time management, and how do you think that applies to being a successful personal trainer?
This question should be broken down into two sections.
Firstly, give them an example of how you have shown great time management, before applying specifically it to the personal trainer role.
Q: Before you start working with a client, what kind of information would you try and find out?
Another question where you should get straight to the point.
If you have any experience training clients, just go through your usual questions and introductory session plan.
If you’re interviewing for a first role as a personal trainer, you should be answering plainly with things like:
- Previous exercise history
- Medical history
- Likes and dislikes in fitness
- Aims and goals
- Measurements and statistics
Above all, your early questions to a client are to ensure their safety. Think about the information you need to know before planning a fitness programme.
Q: Is there any given time when you would turn away a client’s business?
The answer should always be yes!
There will always be times when you should refer a client to someone else or to a medical professional.
This may occur, for example, when:
Q: Which clients results are you most proud of and why?
An interviewer will want to hear about something that really challenged you here.
You might have had to learn a new technology, or overcome difficult problems in a challenging time frame – it’s about how you approach adversity and how you overcame it.
This is also a chance to show how enthusiastic you are about work. If you can show that you have a track record of going above and beyond for your clients, your employer will believe you will do the same in the offered role.
Q: Why should I hire you as a newly qualified personal trainer over someone who has five years’ experience?
For this question you have to justify your passion for becoming a personal trainer, related to your past experience within other industries and how you are going to apply these skills to excelling in a new profession.
Another question to ask is why a personal trainer with five years experience is applying for a role that clearly doesn’t require that level of experience. You can use that as evidence that they lack ambition, whereas you are bringing clear ideas, qualifications, and drive to the role.
As a piece of general advice, however, try as best you can to focus on yourself and what you bring to the table, rather than speculating on other candidates.
Q: What are the latest trends in fitness that you find interesting, and why?
This question is to test whether your knowledge is current, and that you are actively learning new aspects of health and fitness as it continually evolves.
Whether you agree with the latest trends or not, showing you have researched them is what an employer is looking for.
You should also show how you have used a latest trend to benefit a client. Explain how it improves what was there or available previously, and how it could be marketed as part of the organisation you are applying for.
Some latest trends include:
Q: How would you approach the situation of another personal trainer trying to take one of your clients?
This question is more about how to resolve a conflict at work and what steps you would take to resolve that issue. You should answer this question step by step, giving a past example, if you have one, to demonstrate how to diplomatically deal with the situation.
If you have never experienced this, here is the step by step process you can answer this personal training interview question with:
- Talk to the other personal trainer directly and listen to their view. Focus on the problem at hand and not their personality. Identify points of agreement and disagreement and avoid directing blame.
- Develop a plan or resolution with the individual to move forward
- Ask your fitness manager for advice or to help facilitate the process without going through formal processes.
- If no resolution can be reached informally, go through formal processes with your line manager or HR in accordance to the HR manual.
Q: When performing a health check on a client, what measurements would you take?
Again, you should re-iterate it would be client specific, before picking the most relevant from the following options:
Q: What are your personal trainer salary expectations?
Hopefully the job advert details the salary within the advert itself prior to you applying, which makes your answer easy.
That being said, many gyms will place job adverts for personal trainers with salary ranges, or not disclose a rate of pay through external advertisements, so you must be prepared to answer this personal training interview question honestly.
As we said, first and foremost you need to be honest and say what your salary expectations are. In order to do this, you need to have a definitive number, not a salary range, in mind to give to the recruiter.
This question can make or break your entire interview. Pitch too high and you’re being unrealistic and haven’t done enough industry research. Too low and the employer thinks you may be inexperienced and naïve.
This is why completing research or mystery shopping a company is always advisable: it allows you to narrow down your salary expectations from a prospective employer.
Q: Why did you decide to become a personal trainer?
Answer as honestly as possible, you should have your own reasons as to why you qualified. It is passion and industry interest the employer is looking for here. Think about elaborating on sentence starters such as:
- I have been interested in sports and fitness all my life…
- I have been on my own fitness journey and want to share that with others…
- I love helping people and this career path would give me that opportunity…
Of course, these are just starting points. You need to show a little bit of personality and your story in order to make your answer believable.
Q: Is there anything you would like to ask me?
This is not a trick question. You should be asking questions at this stage, so you have clarity and transparency with regard to what your role would be: your daily responsibilities; tasks that you will be required to perform; intricate details regarding the role.
You should ask at least two questions, prepared in advance before attending a personal trainer interview.
There are no right or wrong questions to ask here (within reason), but here are some you might want to consider:
Another little tip is to ask a question that the interviewer has mentioned in passing during the interview about the company or role. Try to make the questions look unrehearsed as this will create a better impression of you.
Remember, there are also personal training interview questions that you do not have to answer as they have no relevance to the job role.
You can politely refuse to answer questions in relation to your marital status, personal lifestyle choices, ethnicity, disability and illness, religion, place of birth, physical information, memberships or affiliations if you feel the question was inappropriate.
Before you go…
The first step to becoming a successful personal trainer, even before attending a personal trainer interview, is completing your qualifications.
Email us at [email protected], or give us a call at 0800 002 9599. If you’re passionate about fitness, and want to start making money in an exciting and constantly expanding industry, we’d love to hear from you!
Be sure to also download our free prospectus below, for all the information you need to embark on your dream career.
All that’s left for us to say now is, good luck for your interview! Let us know your favourite personal trainer interview questions and answers by getting in touch via the comments below, or by messaging us on Facebook and Twitter.