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Would you do a workout with a boss to land an office job?

An Ontario woman says she was shocked when Goodlife Fitness told her a workout with her boss's boss was part of the interview process for a job in the IT department.

A woman says she was shocked when Goodlife Fitness told her a workout was part of the job interview

Goodlife Fitness asks job seekers to work out for 20 minutes with a senior member of the company, but one woman says that's intimidating. (Goodlife)

An Ontario woman says she was shocked when Goodlife Fitness told her a workout with her boss's boss was part of the interview process for a job in the IT department. 

"There's no way you're going to get someone's best in an interview when they know they have to work out with a senior member of the company, a total stranger, right after," said Roberta Clifford, who applied for a job as an IT business analyst at Goodlife's head office in London, Ont. 

"I understand work culture, and I have no problem with gyms, people going to the gym, gym culture. But my fitness goals are irrelevant to the job I'm going to be doing for them." 

Goodlife says it has been asking job seekers to do a 20-minute workout on nine pieces of strength-training equipment, designed for people of all fitness levels and experience, for 15 years. This is the first time someone has given negative feedback about the practice, said Sarah Moore, Goodlife's director of talent acquisition. 

"We usually receive very positive feedback about this element of the interview, that it is fun and different, and allows for a more relaxed and conversational opportunity so that the candidate can get to know our culture and environment even better," she said. 

Bring your references, workout gear

Clifford said she had a phone interview and then was told if she wanted to move on to the in-person interview portion, she would need to bring professional references, a hard copy of her resume and her workout gear. 

"I nearly choked," she said. "I just absorbed the information and then I thought maybe I wouldn't even move on so it wouldn't be an issue." 

She got a second interview. The three-hour process would include a portion with her boss, a portion with her potential co-workers, and a workout. 

"As much as I respect company culture and that you have to be a fit, I don't understand how a gym workout is part of an office business culture, and how it's OK to make that part of the interview process, to add physical fitness to a job interview. It blows my mind," Clifford said. 

"I feel thoroughly judged while I walk through a gym. For me, exercise is a very personal thing. It's about working out, whereas a job interview is about what your strengths are, about my work, which I'm good at." 

Clifford replied to the email to Goodlife saying she didn't feel comfortable doing a workout, and was told she didn't have to do it. In the meantime, she found another position. 

"I was very disappointed in their response. They defended their practice, said they were judgment free, that they just want to know what my fitness goals are. I can't think of anything where I'd feel more judged than putting on my workout clothes and working out during a job interview. What if I said my goal is a 5K (run), and what if I didn't do it?" 

Goodlife told CBC News it would provide accommodations for any potential candidate to participate in the exercise portion of the interview, and that the company would allow someone to decline if that person wasn't comfortable. 

"Where some companies might take a candidate out for coffee as opposed to remaining in the office setting, we use the workout as an opportunity to introduce our potential candidates to our core business of fitness and to have a conversation outside of the formal interview process," Moore said. 

"This portion of our interview process is meant to be comfortable and inclusive for all our candidates... Whether someone is applying for a motivator role in one of our clubs or to be a web developer at our home office, we want to share this experience with them in a very welcoming and non-judgmental way." 

About the Author

Kate Dubinski

Reporter/Editor

Kate Dubinski is a radio and digital reporter with CBC News in London, Ont. You can email her at kate.dubinski@cbc.ca.