This can be an arduous and common task for most fitness managers. The process of hiring a trainer is difficult and time consuming, but is worth all the time you spend.
The first step is a “needs analysis” of what type of trainer you are looking to hire. Are you looking to fill a special niche, or are you just looking for a new face for your training staff? You need to look at your needs, whether they are financial, experience or personality driven, and then base your search around that ideal candidate.
Second, have in place basic criteria that all candidates need to meet. Whether it is an educational requirement (i.e. BS in Exercise Science or a certification with a specific certifying body), experience (i.e. 3-5 years of training prior to working at your facility) or desire to work a certain amount of hours (i.e. minimum of 20 hours per week). Once those have been fleshed out and posted the number of applicants may decrease significantly. This allows you to begin your search for the right personality. That’s right, personality — not person! Look for an outgoing, passionate, interactive and engaging person that is more likely to attract more clients than a highly educated introvert. Also, remember that skills can be taught within weeks, but personalities are formed over a course of a lifetime.
In this part of the interview process I ask questions such as:
- What is your favorite sport?
- Tell me about a competition you were in?
- When is the last time you were embarrassed at work?
- What inspires you?
These questions are designed to make the applicant begin a dialogue with you. It lets you see how the trainer would interact with your members in a conversation. The last part of the process, I suggest is a road test of the applicant’s actual training ability. Give the applicant a person to train. Try and use an actual person. Don’t have someone pretend to be 80 years of age. Use another staff member from a different department of the club or a member who would be willing to be a guinea pig. Try and find someone that fits your club’s demographic of training clients or who fits the profile of clients you are trying to attract.
Depending on your candidate and how they interview, you may need to bring a few senior trainers in to see how they would perceive this trainer as a co-worker. This may seem like a lot for hiring a trainer, but remember the golden rule of management — “Hire slow, and fire fast.” If you spend time in the upfront part of the hire you know exactly what you are getting and are sure to fill your personnel needs with the right person.
Vic Spatola is the Director of Personal Training for Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Greenwood Village, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.