Previously, Staci Alden shared six ways to find quality group fitness talent for your health club. Here, Alden reviews the group fitness instructor hiring process from assessing a new applicant’s resume to interview and audition.
Reviewing an Instructor’s Resume
When reviewing a fresh instructor resume, I like to start big then narrow with the information presented. The first elements I pay attention to are the format, grammar and focus. For formatting, if the resume follows a professional template, it’s a sign the instructor is resourceful and professional. When it comes to grammar, if there are a lot of spelling errors, this can be a sign of a lack of attention to detail.
Next, I look for a fitness-focused introduction. If there isn’t one or I struggle to find any relevant fitness experience and have difficulty finding appropriate education, it can be a sign they are still learning their purpose behind teaching. After a quick overview, I start looking for red flags. Red flags include significant gaps in employment and education. The resume is the tip of the iceberg when reviewing a candidate.
References provided by the applicant have not been as helpful, but reviewing their social media is. If they have the proper credential and I don’t see any glaring social media posts that show their values and approach are the complete opposite of what we want on our team, I will bring them in for an interview.
Interviewing a Potential Instructor
Once the applicant and I have settled on a date and time for the interview, the next step in the fitness instructor hiring process is to send them a detailed email describing our team, culture and expectations. If your facility has a strict uniform or appearance policies, send that information to them immediately. The advanced notice allows them to decide if those expectations align with what they’re willing to do before coming in for an interview.
I love interviewing instructors and hearing the different stories that have brought an instructor to where they are today and specifically to an interview with me. I like to dive deeper once they answer a question with several strategic follow-up questions to understand their personality and if they are the right fit and will thrive on our team for a very long time.
Every candidate and interview is different, so I recommend asking applicants the following questions:
Please share your origin story as an instructor. What got you started teaching? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Everyone’s origin story is different. I am looking and listening for energy, joy, excitement and passion while they tell it.
Why do you enjoy teaching? An applicant’s answer to this question must align with your participant’s needs. If someone says they enjoy teaching to “push participants to work hard,” that is a much different motivation than “help more people move and have fun.” Neither answer is wrong, just another reason for teaching that may or may not align. There is a wrong answer to this question. Hint: If the answer is “I get paid to workout.” I would not recommend hiring that person.
Why would you like to become a part of our team? The answer to this question demonstrates whether or not they have done their research and have an idea of your expectations or what sets your team apart. This question also reveals the expectation of being part of a team and, therefore, a good team player.
How would you describe your class experience, and what makes it unique? This question is a two-partner, but I tend to look for hints to whether or not they are aware of their teaching style and some insight into how they prepare for the experience. If I invite them back for an audition, this question is beneficial to compare notes about whether the experience they describe matches the audition.
What are you currently working to improve as an instructor? With this question, I’m not as concerned with what they are working on, but more so that they are aware of the areas they’d like to improve in their class or professional development and have taken action.
Please describe your continuing education strategy. Education for instructors comes in many forms. Along with formal conferences and CECs, I also enjoy hearing that an instructor is attending other instructors’ classes or watching recordings of their classes to learn.
As the hiring manager, it’s essential to actively listen and stay engaged by taking notes for reference after the interview. After asking the questions, I open the floor for the applicant to ask questions, and if there’s time, I show them around the facility if the interview is in-person. I anticipate questions about compensation and benefits, and since I have yet to see them teach, I explain I can’t tell them exactly what to expect for commission but provide a range of commissions to expect and how instructors are evaluated or earn increases over time.
Group Fitness Instructor Audition
If the interview goes well, the last part of the fitness instructor hiring process is to offer the ability to attend classes and invite them back for an audition. I will ask them to create a class plan and submit it to me for review. Even in a choreographed class like ZUMBA, I at least want a playlist to show they know how to prepare for class, and it becomes a great reference to see if they stick to it. I give them everything to expect about the audition, offer advice and explain precisely what I will be looking for them to say and do in class. Be as helpful as possible, encouraging them to reach out with questions before the audition and introducing them to the instructors’ classes you recommend attending. I do all this because it is a big red flag if they have everything they need and still can’t match expectations.
In today’s world, auditions can happen in many forms: in-person, online, single instructor or group auditions. While pre-recorded audition tapes can be helpful, I only recommend using them if they are the only option. I recommend doing an audition in real-time. Pre-recorded can be stopped, started, or edited and doesn’t allow you to see how they behave or accommodate various levels of participants.
Here are the behaviors to look for in an audition:
- Arriving early. An audition is the highest quality of their behavior, and if they arrive right on time or, worse, late, that is their best behavior.
- Arriving prepared. Did they bring music that’s ready on multiple devices? Do they have their class plan with them?
- Kind. Sometimes if there is enough staff, I will, as an instructor or a front desk representative, escort the applicant to the location of the audition. I will follow up with how their attitude and demeanor were with another employee. I also want to see kindness and respect demonstrated by applicants in a group audition. How do the other instructors behave as participants if another applicant is teaching?
- Receptiveness. Immediately after the audition, I provide positive and constructive feedback to see how the applicant responds. It will not work out if they are not receptive to feedback when they are on their best behavior.
Here are the skills to look for in an audition:
- Alignment. Does the audition align with how they described it in the initial interview? For example, if they said they love making participants feel special but take no time during the audition to learn names or make eye contact, those discrepancies are important.
- Connection. Do they foster connection and community? These are just a few examples of this skill: learning names, coming off the stage, looking participants in the eyes and introducing participants to each other.
- Concern. How do they show concern for the whole class? Providing various levels and options is part of this, and so is their class programming and pace.
- Cueing. How well do they communicate the movements and expectations before and during the class? How do they ask participants to check into how they are feeling throughout the class and if that matches the effort level they are describing?
- Entertainment. They don’t need to shout or dance, but you should see an effort made to add some fun to the experience.
If you’re still on the fence about hiring the applicant. Assign homework.
- Ask them to attend another class with an instructor to see the feedback you gave them in action.
- If you believe they would be an excellent fit for your team, but need some support in developing their teaching skills, offer the opportunity to participate in training at your facility for a low cost if possible.
Whether or not the audition was perfect, the characteristics of an applicant you should look for during the fitness instructor hiring process is just that, good character. Listen to your gut. Teaching an open, passionate and humble instructor how to grow and improve is possible. It is nearly impossible to change an instructor who cannot receive feedback or support their teammates. If your gut says, “YES! I would love to work with this instructor,” bring them onto your team with excitement. If otherwise, kindly decline their application. No matter how high the need is to hire an instructor to fill a spot, hiring the wrong person is much harder to fix.
Stay tuned for how to capitalize on finding quality group fitness talent thorough the onboarding process.