One of the toughest parts of being a studio or gym owner is recruiting and hiring the right instructors to fit your business. The right instructor should inspire community amongst your clients, emulate your brand in and outside the studio, and want to grow their own practice with you. There are thousands of wannabe instructors out there, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that by 2018 there will be 338,000 fitness instructors in the U.S. Yet even with an applicant’s resume, experience, and references, how can you know if you’re making the right choice? We asked a few studio owners and fitness consultants to share what they look out for during interviews.
Are they interested in studio promotion?
According to longtime fitness consultant Jim Thomas, group instructors are essential to member loyalty and growth. This means that employees should be enthusiastic enough about what you’re doing that they want to participate in membership drives, announce promotions to students, and plug your studio on their social media accounts. “We don’t want instructors racing in, teaching a class, and racing out which so many of them do,” said Thomas. “We like to see them get there 15 minutes early, encourage people to participate, ask people to bring their friends to class.” One of the ways Thomas recommends gauging an applicant’s interest in going above and beyond is to“ role play” during interviews. He proposes coming up with a hypothetical situation such as an upcoming event at the studio and asking the fitness instructor what they might do to encourage attendance among clients. He says their response to these sorts of questions will also be a good indication of what their work ethic will be like after the initial excitement of getting hired has passed.
Do they have passion for your mission?
It’s important, Monica Grubin, owner of four Pure Barre studios, says to make sure that a prospective fitness instructor would want to take the class they’re applying to teach. There’s likely many people who can learn to teach the classes you offer, but if they’re not already familiar with your style this could be a red flag that they’re not passionate enough about what you do. This will translate to how well they teach and if they’re willing to work at your studio for a long period of time. She wouldn’t, for example, hire someone to teach a barre class who has primarily invested in pilates. “It’s one thing to know they just like to do a bunch of different things, but sometimes it’s like ‘oh they worked here for three months and quit and then they worked there,’” Grubin said. “That kind of stuff means they’re not really committing to a particular principle that they enjoy.”
Are they familiar with your studio?
Carly Reeder, owner of My Om Yoga Studio in Huntington Beach, says she’s had many fitness instructors contact her to see if she’s hiring. She said one of the first things she considers is whether they’ve already taken a class at the studio. This is a sign of whether they want to be a part of your brand or they’re just looking for a paycheck.
Grubin said she’s also noticed in her eight years of hiring that whether a fitness instructor lives close to the studio makes a difference in their level of commitment.
There are exceptions, but generally she recommends seeking people who live within a ten-mile radius of where you’re located. This means they’re more likely to come in when they’re not teaching and take classes or be part of your community.
How well do they work with a team?
The audition is a good time to judge whether an instructor will get along with your other employees. Grubin has found success involving a variety of team members during this step and then taking their feedback about the person’s vibe seriously. Thomas said it’s unfortunate, but one of the biggest challenges he’s seen owners face is that they hire people who are qualified but unwilling to listen to authority. He says this problem is common enough that he recommends conducting ongoing interviews even when you’re not hiring in case you need an immediate replacement.
You can often intuit, though, if someone will be willing to take constructive criticism by paying close attention to how they respond to suggestions during the interview. “You can just tell right away,” Reeder said. “’Okay, this person cares about what I’m doing.’”