Professional athletes endure a huge amount of physical stress. Tennis players, runners, soccer stars. The season is prolonging each and every year (unless we have a virus pandemic), and the global warming and tough weather conditions do not make the live of sport starts easier. Therefor we see the new stars of the sports on our TV screen ever more often–the trainers. They are consulting the athletes, assessing their injuries directly on the pitch or on the court, and providing treatment and advice.

No wonder this career is on a rise, and it will continue to be.  We talk about all levels of sport here, not just the highest level. Tournaments, leagues, professional sport associations, clubs–they all want to hire good athletic trainers. Let’s have a look at the interview, the questions you will face while trying to get this job.


Talk about your experience and qualification

Experience plays a pivotal role in hiring process for this position. You do not need ten years of experience with caring for athletes, or working with a basketball club, however. But you need to convince the hiring managers that you actually provided care and treatment to athletes, in situations that imitate the things you’ll do in a new job.

Talk about various places where you worked, and injuries you addressed. Talk about your communication with the athletes, the therapies you administered, the job you’ve done. And talk about it with enthusiasm. Show them that you know what you are doing, and actually enjoy going to work.

And if you’ve just graduated from school, that’s not a problem. Refer to your hands-on learning, and say them that after everything you’ve been through in the training (both theoretically and practically), you feel ready to handle the job.


Why do you want to work for us?

Try to refer to a connection you have with the event/club/sport association/training center/facility. Perhaps you played the same sport before (or still play it on a recreational level), and because of it you understand the common problems and injuries athletes face. Or you have been always supporting the club, or like the facility, like to watch the matches they play, and so on, and so forth.

Loyalty matters a lot in this job. Show them that you have some connection with them, and plan to stay for a long time with the organization. Enjoying the perks of this job, such as traveling to various places and using the facilities of the club/center for free, is another reason of job application which you can mention.

Special Tip: Download a list of questions in a simple one-page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

interview questions for athletic trainer, PDF

How do you imagine a typical day in job?

Whatever you say, the key is to show flexibility, and willingness to work hard. Read the job description carefully (if they provide any details) and try to understand what you will do each day. Say that you imagine working also on weekends, or in the night, when they need you on the pitch or court.

Mention duties such as consulting the athletes, and giving them advice in training, since communication and prevention of injuries is an integral part of this job.


What are your salary expectations?

Try to keep your expectations low, and check the average salary in the country of your job application, before you go to your interview (in most countries of the world this information is publicly available).

Athletic trainer is not one of the best paying jobs. Unless you have at least five years of experience, or work directly with one of the sport’s superstars, you can’t expect to earn more than $50,000 annually. Typically you will start at about $35,000.

In my view this is still good, considering the nature of the job, the benefits it brings to your life, and the possibilities for future growth..

* Do not forget to check also: Salary negotiation tips – Use some clever strategies to get a better offer in your interview.

Other questions you may get in your athletic trainer interview

Note: Keep in mind that the hiring process for this position can vary a lot, from one organization to another, one country to another.

It is not uncommon to experience a very straightforward interview, and face just a few basic questions about your experience and motivation. Sometimes a good reference from your previous employer can win you a job contract, and the interview will be only a formality.

On the other hand, some organizations and clubs apply a more “traditional” interview model, and will ask you many more questions, including behavioral questions, trying to learn as much as they can about your personality, and attitude to work. To such questions belong:

  • What motivates you the most in this job?
  • How would deal with an athlete that doesn’t want to co-operate with you?
  • What would you do if you examined the athlete, and knew that they faked their injury? What would be your reaction?
  • Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work (or say us how you’d handle the pressure, if you never had a job before).
  • Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
  • Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service (for the colleague, for the athlete).
  • Describe a situation when you did not agree with the opinion (or decision) of your superior, and knew that they were wrong. How did you handle that?
  • Describe a situation when you faced a particularly demanding problem or challenge in your personal life. How did that affect you in your job or in school?
  • Describe a time when you struggled with motivation in job. How did you overcome the crisis of motivation?
  • Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer (athlete). How did you manage to get your message over?
  • Why should we hire you, and not one of the other applicants who try to get this job?

* Special Tip: If you are not sure how to address the questions, have a look at our article about behavioral interview questions. It can make all the difference in your interview.


Conclusion and next steps

It is not easy to predict what exactly will happen in an interview for an athletic trainer position. Exact questions may vary from one place to another. What is more, the cultural differences, and the skills of the person who leads the interview with you (whether they specialize in human resources or in another field) also play the role.

Having said of all this, success (or failure) in the interview is not a question of luck. Prepare for all possible questions you may get, including the behavioral questions. It may happen that after talking to you for five minutes, they will offer you a job, and you won’t face any really difficult questions. But the opposite can be true as well–you may spend two hours interviewing for this job, and sweat a lot, facing many tough questions…

Once you are ready for both possibilities, you will know that you did your best to prepare for the interview, and to succeed. We wish you good luck!

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Matthew Chulaw
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