The definitive guide to an interview in the fitness industry for your dream health and fitness job
So, you have spent time updating your CV and it has been accepted for a great fitness opportunity. You have received a call from the awesome team at Love Recruitment or the company hiring manager to book the interview for your dream health and fitness job. You put the phone down. What happens next?
Read on new friend, read on.
We will take you through what you now need to be considering. What comes first? What should you be considering as more important? You have been asked to do a video interview??!!? What? How crazy?!? Only kidding, none of this is scary we promise, follow the guide below, it will give you tips, structure, confidence and an understanding of the fun ahead interviewing for your next fitness job.
It absolutely, 100% categorically starts here. So much of what follows comes from effective initial research. This will give you the information you need and crucially, will give you confidence to present yourself in the best possible way. So, what research? I cover more research and prep information through this document, but the three key points are:
Research the company you are interviewing with. We live in a day and age where information is quite literally at our fingertips. A simple Google search can give you basic information which leads to more and leads to more. On the most basic level, you can explore a company website and understand what it does, where it does it, why it does it and how it does it. However, go further, don’t just stop there, consider the following additional actions you could (and should) be taking:
- Competitors, look into who they are, display this knowledge of going above and beyond.
- Can you call the company? Can you mystery shop? Can you use the product or service? If it is a fitness sales role, understanding their sales process by mystery shopping will give you SO much insight into how its currently done and talking points for the interview.
- News articles – what press releases have gone out? What are they proud to be talking about in the public domain?
- Social media – what is their tone? What is their feel? What do they look like as business? What are they posting?
- Ask when you are organising the interview if they are looking for anything in particular from the process, then research into that.
- Reviews, platforms like google review, glassdoor or trust pilot have given so much more transparency.
- General Google searches – what are people saying about these brands more generally, any trends or talking points emerging from here.
- LinkedIn – who are key people? Do you have any shared connections to anyone who works there already? Reach out to them, ask them their thoughts.
- Calling people. Is there someone in the business doing something similar? You could call them about their role, their challenges, what they love about their fitness role and working for the company.
- Look into the person who is interviewing you. LinkedIn gives fantastic access to professionals all over the world. Where have they worked before? Do you have any shared connections? How long have they worked in the current role? Have they progressed internally?
- Check the company website, they may also have a profile here too.
- A great recruitment team, like the team here at Love Recruitment who specialise in fitness recruitment, will brief you but other agencies may not or you may be going for a health and fitness opportunity directly so the onus may be on you to make sure you are aware of who you are meeting and making sure you are prepared.
- Whether you are interviewing for this fantastic fitness opportunity through an agency or directly, you should have been sent a job description (JD). Read through and begin to prepare yourself for the requirements against your experience. I will talk more about this later.
- If you haven’t been sent a JD try the following:
- Ask the hiring manager to send one, it may just be an oversight.
- Go onto their website, career pages sometimes have them as downloadable documents.
- As a last resort find people on LinkedIn doing the same or very similar role and look at their profiles. They are likely to have listed their key tasks and responsibilities. It will not be conclusive but will at least give an indication.
CV and Job Description Preparation
Many years ago, I had a General Manager called Catherine Ferma who not only was one of the best leaders I have ever worked for, also gave me some fantastic advice which I turn have given to hundreds of fitness professionals since.
Whilst working for Esporta I was going for the Sales Manager role (internal move) at Chiswick Riverside, which at the time was a huge opportunity for me and I basically flunked the 1st interview….
The feedback was I talked around the houses, lacked detail, lacked conciseness, lacked relevant examples, gave too many examples, you get the idea!
Basically, very unimpressive…
I was so lucky because it was an internal move and the interviewer and Catherine had a great relationship and so Catherine received the honest feedback. She then gave it to me straight. Best. Advice. Ever.
Luckily, I was to be given another chance. Fortunately, Catherine thought this feedback wasn’t me and decided to explore this further, by having a mock interview.
After about 10 mins, Catherine saw for herself the problem and stopped the interview. It was indeed everything described above. It was here that I received the advice I needed.
She said go home. Take a piece of paper and write down every question you think you might get asked. From when a target has been hit, when someone has developed well, best month ever, paperwork compliance issues.
Just write, take 30 mins, do not answer them yet, just write questions. I still remember now; I went to town and had about 10 sheets of paper everywhere. Catherine said after 30 mins, start answering the questions, but give 1 clear concise answer to each. Talk fully, be passionate, clear, concise and honest, but give 1 answer.
Suddenly I was clear. I understood. I was concise and able to get across my knowledge and my experience. If you need more answers an interviewer will ask for another, that’s fine, have another ready.
What you’ll find with this exercise is that this is absolutely not about having prepared, robotic answers ready, far far from it. This is about being able to concisely and clearly answer a question to be able to get across your experience in a confident way.
So, go get a piece of paper and do it for yourself. 30mins, don’t answer, just write.
If you struggle for questions do 2 things. Firstly, get your CV. If you read my previous blog about the perfect CV, you should have a CV that lists key responsibilities. If you have said something like ‘I added 30% more revenue in 12 months’, you have just given yourself a question. How? Answer fully, clearly and honestly. Then move onto the next key achievement or key responsibly. You should be able to find 20-30 questions easily.
Secondly look at the JD for the role you are interviewing for. What are requirements listed? Can you think of a clear time in your employment history where you achieved or carried out this element? Start with the key requirements and then move onto the others. You’ve just got another 20-30 questions.
I want to say two things in this area.
Firstly, ask the question. It doesn’t matter if you are working with an agency like Love Recruitment or if you are interviewing directly with the company it is ok to ask what the expected dress code is for an interview. Then once you know, adhere to it!
So often a candidate will be told its business attire and they feel, “well these trousers are smart so….” If its business attire, its business attire. Suit, nice shoes and tie. Be well presented and give yourself the best chance possible.
If the dress code is smart casual or training gear always err on the side of the smart end. Why push the boundary the other way? It will likely only raise a needless question around your smartness and effort made for the interview. If you want the job, adhere to the advice.
Secondly, if doubt exists because it has not been made clear, always err on the side of smart. It is much better to be overdressed and take off your tie than to feel uncomfortable while being underdressed or be faced by an interviewer in business attire and you are not.
Err on the side of smart.
Be a pleasure to deal with. The advice here is really that simple.
The higher the fitness role you are interviewing for the more your experience obviously becomes more the deciding factors. However, for ANY level, being a person that someone WANTS to work with and who they can see their teams liking and engaging with will always be a HUGE factor.
This applies in several areas.
Firstly, before the interview. Being a pleasure to deal with applies here. Getting back to hiring manager quickly, being alert and attentive on the phone and sending any pre required information quickly and efficiently.
Secondly within the interview. There are a few key elements to be considered. If you are ticking all these, you are giving yourself a better chance than not!
- Arrive early, smile and let the person know when you arrive who you are, who you are interviewing with and what time your interview is.
- Handshakes. Firm but no bonecrunchers please. If in doubt practice. I mean it. Firm but don’t be Hulk Hogan people.
- Eye contact. This breeds trust and builds a relationship. As much as you can from immediacy of meeting people, engage with them and make eye contact.
- Body language. Be alert, attentive and engaged. There really is no situation ever where slouching forward or backwards is ever a good thing. Just do not do it. You can match body language to your interviewer in terms of leaning slightly forward or back but try to make this natural, doing it every time might start to freak them out a bit!
- Speak clearly. Practice with a friend and make every effort to speak clearly and with a smile on your face. Try this, say a sentence. Now say it with a big smile on your face. Notice the difference? Now do it in front of a mirror. It makes such a difference.
- Look presentable. Make an effort. If you were interviewing yourself, would you be impressed by how you’ve walked into this interview?
- Start strongly. Have a message in your head that you know will focus you at the crucial point of starting. Be it ‘focus’ or ‘go’ or ‘gametime!’ whatever works for you to get you in the right frame of mind to start strongly. Just remember to say it in your head not out loud….
Be prepared. You will be given a location for the interview and you should give yourself time to effectively plan the logistics of the day. What is the best route? How long will it take?
I know of candidates doing trial runs of the journey, so they knew exactly where it was. One called me to say they ended up mystery shopping the club and found out so much information they wanted to the role even more. Guess what? They were early for the interview and got the role.
The other logistical consideration here is if you are doing a presentation. Prepare for EVERYTHING. Print a copy of your presentation (or more depending on how many people might be interviewing). Have a copy for everyone and print one more just in case! Also have it on your laptop and also a memory stick in case the laptop does not work. Lastly, have it copied in your phone.
I think that covers everything…
Have some questions ready when you go for the interview. If you have prepared fully and effectively you will, you must, have questions about the role, its scope, the company, its development, the role, its potential and many many many more. Have them ready. I love it when a candidate pulls out their diary and says, “yes I have loads of questions”! Honestly, I love it.
If there is a logical time during the interview to ask one of your questions do it, you don’t have to save them up for the end. This shows engagement. Questions may emerge in your head during the interview, when suitable, ask them. This shows active listening and engagement.
Lastly consider the types of questions you are asking and their suitability. For example, its ok to ask more detail in certain areas but if you are asking them questions like ‘what are the hours’ or ‘what is the job’ or ‘what is the salary’, these are the types of questions an interviewer would think you would probably know already if you had done your research effectively. If you are unsure on some of these details, ask beforehand or only ask in the interview if you have tried other ways of finding this information first. If the interview was arranged through an agency, they should have this information for you.
Different types of interviews and the varying prep required.
There are many different formats for interviews within the fitness industry. I have listed below the ones we have come across and some tips for them. If there are any others you would like to ask about, reach out to me here, very happy to help.
This is sometimes used as that initial qualification call and initial questions start to a process. On the other hand, phone interviews are also used as a significant part of the process for many operators, some even making hiring decisions on this element only.
So, the first consideration here as a candidate is to be clear on the type of call it is going to be before you start. The call should not be a surprise to you but on the small chance that it is, roll with it! Be a professional, if you can take it go somewhere quiet, focus and switch on. If you cannot, be polite and make sure you arrange a suitable time for a follow up.
Once you know what type of phone interview it is going to be you can prepare.
Initial screening/qualification/hello call
This could be anything from 10-30mins typically. The onus on calls like this is to be clear, concise and ready. A client is looking for a snapshot of your suitability for the role in terms of skills, efficiency and personality. Depending on the client or level of role will depend on the level of significance of the above 3 areas. Your recruiter should be your guide to this. They should be able to give you an understanding of the requirement.
Prepare for this in the same way I have described both above and below. It’s a real interview, do not cut corners. Be ready.
Be in an environment where you will not be disturbed and can focus. Make sure you have enough time for the call, including a little bit over just in case the interview lasts longer.
Lastly do not forget you do not have the benefit of interaction through body language so make sure you are passionate, clear and concise.
The feedback and guide for you here is very similar to the above in both cases.
The area I would add is around two things.
Firstly, your connection. Do not leave this to chance, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to do a Skype call and the sound or video keeps breaking or drops out completely. Choose your location for doing this carefully with a strong, consistent connection.
Secondly, interview attire. You can be seen! Sorry I know this is obvious, but I have had candidates sat in a t-shirt for a formal interview because they thought as it was a video that attire wasn’t important. It is.
Video interviews are becoming more and more popular and shows no sign of slowing down and everyone looking for a role or recruiting for a role needs to move with this too. With the growth of really effective packages like Skype, Zoom and obviously Facetime, covering more ground quickly with video interviews is becoming more commonplace. Do not be worried or nervous here. The preparation and requirements are the same as what you might have been used to previously with more conventional face to face or phone interviews. It feels a little uneasy at first but you soon warm up to it. Follow the points and tips I am laying out here and you’ll give yourself the best chance. Be bold and be brave.
Face to Face interviews
The old favourite and still by far the way people hire their people. Face to face, getting to know the person. The guide here is largely covered in the tips highlighted above. Prepare and be ready. Follow this guide and what I have advised.
Group Interviews / Assessment Days
Particularly at more entry level roles or role specific fitness opportunities like personal trainers, this format can be common. In 10 years of recruitment in fitness, today is probably the least I have seen this process but these things can go in cycles so it might come back! The only time we are seeing it currently is with two clients who use assessment days to recruit sales advisors, coaches and personal trainers.
It is very important with this format of assessment that you know as much as you can about the format before you walk in. Working with a good agency like Love Recruitment will give you all the information you need. Also, however some companies that we know who hold assessment days that prepare their candidates really well. DW Fitness First comes to mind in this regard.
Regarding the ones that we recruit for, we will give you the details that you need to know. For example, the format, tone, expectancy and if anything is required of you to prepare or consider beforehand.
Some brands like to bring people into the club for a trial or a few days. Firstly, keep an open mind. Often these are by sheer nature a trial so is unpaid. They may also require you to take time away from your current role. Consider how much you want the role and let that be your barometer here.
If you really want to the role, suck it up and give it your all and commit to it. Make the booking, turn up early and throw yourself into the day. Also ask questions and show willingness.
So, there you have it. You have prepared fully, feel confident, turned up early, smiled, answered questions concisely and been a pleasure to deal with and asked great questions. You gave a firm handshake on leaving and now what do you do?
If you are dealing with a recruiter, call them ASAP and let them know how it went. They will be asking the questions so don’t worry about making all this concise, for example if you phone Tom after your interview he will know what he would like to ask you. To conclude the conversation, be honest and clear. If you are more excited about the role tell us, if you are less, tell us that too. We are your partner in this process and hopefully in the future, let us help you and deciding against a role after an interview is perfectly acceptable.
If you are dealing directly with a company, ensure you have asked before you leave when the likely timeframe for feedback is and how they will communicate this. You now have your timetable. I would say if you have not heard back from them on the specified day or within the timeframe, make contact within 24 hours of that time. Format wise, the medium with which they said they would contact you would be advisable. After that, any chasing is your call, but I would advise potentially one more attempt if you still haven’t heard.
Here we are at the end. If you would like to discuss any of this further or looking to discuss health and fitness opportunities further, please do reach out to anyone in the team or message me directly here and I’ll make sure you are connected to the right person for you.
CEO Love Recruitment - London and Sydney