For years I have interviewed, hired and developed personal trainers. I have hired some great ones and to the contrary have hired some bad ones. It is always a unique process that requires much more than looking at a resume and requesting a copy of their certification. Special attention needs to be paid to the attitude, wiliness to learn and passion the applicant exhibits. This cannot always be conveyed through a resume or a short five minute interview. For a private studio owner, the success or failure of a new personal trainer could be dramatic to the business model.

Here are a few tips when interviewing trainers:

1. Certifications don't tell the whole story
Some of the best trainers I have hired have had the most basic certifications. Rarely, in fact, have I come across a multi-certified trainer that I hired on the spot (and this comes from a guy who has 16 certifications). Do not become obsessed with the applicant's certification(s) -- look more for the potential and ability rather than the paper they carry around. 

2. Ask leadership questions
Personal trainers are leaders and should be great influencers. This should transfer over to the clients. I always ask leadership driven questions to see the capability of the applicant. Question such as: “Give me an example of a time when you played a leadership role in an event, an activity, a department, a work unit, or a project. Describe how you led the efforts and how people responded to you.” This will give you an idea of how they will handle being in a leadership position.

3. Experience is important but relative
A trainer may have 15 years of experience but 12 of it could have been doing the same thing they learned their first three years. You want a trainer that has progressed and is adaptable, not one that has continuously done the same thing over and over.

4. If you can’t get the best, hire young and hungry
If you cannot hire the best trainer out there, hire the newbie trainer with a ton of heart that just wants a shot. Often times this is the best scenario, they have no bad habits and only want to get their foot in the door.

Josh 'JB' Bowen, BS, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D is the former Quality Control Director of Personal Training for Urban Active Fitness and is currently a personal trainer for Fitness Plus II in Lexington, KY and a consultant and National Fitness Director for Compel Fitness.


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