Win A Coaching Job With These Simple Interviewing Tips

Serious question: Why do you keep sabotaging yourself when sitting down for a job interview?

You’ve already got your foot in the door, so much of the hard part is over.

Why not put some thought into how you’re going to leave a positive impression following an approaching face-to-face conversation? Entirely reactionary interviewing is lazy, and you can avoid it by coming into a discussion with at least the loose framework of how you’d like the conversation to go.

At some point in the dialogue, you will likely be given an opportunity to guide the direction. So what are you going to do with it?

It’s Interviewing Season

I’m in the home stretch of a week of 15+ summer internship interviews as I type this. My colleague John O’Neil and I have reviewed all of the applications, extended all of the interview offers, and executed roughly 5+ hours of face-to-face candidate conversations since Monday.

With several hundred of these interviews under my belt dating back to 2007, it’s difficult to find scenarios that completely catch me off guard. There are, however, a number of common trends that creep up with each new candidate pool, and I’d like to share some interesting takeaways that will hopefully help you the next time you show up for a job interview.

Some of these are “things to stop doing immediately,” and others are simply friendly reminders on how to step up your game.

Here goes…

1. looking the part is easy. It’s Also unmemorable.

The great thing about working in fitness is the option to wear comfortable exercise attire just about all of the time. The crummy thing about working in fitness is that the sweatpants and hoodie culture can easily bleed its way into moments that should probably be treated with a hint more professionalism, regardless of the uniform you’ll ultimately be sporting if you get the job.

If you show up for a Skype or Facetime interview wearing a tee shirt and backwards hat, you may not be hurting your chances to earn a strength and conditioning internship, but you’re certainly not helping them. Throw on a collared golf shirt and take it up a notch or two just for appearances. Hell, you don’t even need to be wearing pants to execute this part of the interview process properly.

Remember this: I’ve never taken points away from a candidate for being over dressed, but I have definitely made mental note of particularly lazy attire selections.

Look the Part.jpg

2. Speaking of Skype interviews, get your technology straight.

It’s frustrating when an applicant is late to, or completely unavailable for an interview because he failed to test-run the technology being used in advance. “Sorry, I have never used Skype before” isn’t a reasonable excuse for messing up someone else’s schedule when you’ve had several days notice to get your ducks in a row.

If you’re preparing for an interview that requires use of a technology such as Skype, Facetime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or any other trendy platform, an important step in the process should be confirming that your visuals are clear, the microphone works, and you have a quality internet connection prior to starting that call.

3. Nerves don’t need to sink you.

I’ve seen more than a few candidates torpedo their chances for scoring a position with us because they couldn’t get their nerves in check during the process. If this sounds like anxiety you are familiar with, take comfort in knowing that a hint of nervousness during the initial stages of an interview can easily be interpreted as a compliment to the employer.

Nerves tell me that you are serious about the opportunity, and concerned about potentially missing the mark during the interview process. I’d much rather consider a candidate showing a little humility during an interview than one who shows up with a chip on their shoulder and an approach that tells me they see this conversation as a formality on their road to the strength and conditioning coach hall of fame.

4. Lazy candidates ask lazy questions.

Any proper interviewer should give their candidate an opportunity to ask questions about the role, and questions that follow (or lack thereof) tell a lot about the applicant.

There is no way for me to effectively outline everything that can be expected while interning at CSP during a 10-15 minute conversation, so telling me you don’t have any questions at the back end of the discussion isn’t a good look. We’re always in need of coaches who ask thoughtful questions and challenge us to think differently on a day-to-day basis, and this is the first opportunity you’ll have to demonstrate a capacity to do so.

Bonus Tip -- One surefire way to make a bad impression is to only ask questions about when you’re going to be able to get your own training in, and if we’ll be writing programs for you. Sure, I want you to experience the training we offer, take part in staff lifts, and in look the part to a certain extent, but that piece of the puzzle cannot be prioritized over embracing the curriculum and prioritizing learning over self-serving fitness objectives.

Back to the candidate pool…

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m back to the interviewing grind. Time to go find our industry’s next great coach. Wish me luck.


If you enjoyed this, or any of my other “hot takes” on fitness business ownership, I think you’d enjoy our upcoming Business Building Mentorship. Eric Cressey and I are hosting this event once again on April 7th at our facility in Jupiter, FL.  

Please shoot me an email if you’d like to discuss further. We’d love to have you.