It's not a free lunch… It's way better than that.

“We have amazing perks” says Amy Round from Google. “Free breakfast, lunch and dinner, gym overlooking London with every exercise class you could want, massages and manicures onsite…”

How can you find a company this good to work for? “Great recruitment is about best job fit, best boss fit, best cultural fit,” says Randstad consultant James Wellbrook. “You’ll know whether you have the skills for a good job fit – but a lot depends on boss and cultural fit. That’s much harder to assess.”

So compare your prospective employers to Google – who have clearly got it right.

Best cultural fit.

“Google is a hugely powerful brand. It’s not just a company name, it’s a verb,” says Amy. “And we’ve built around it a workplace that is fun, inspiring and social.” These adjectives perfectly describe the conference rooms they set up as American diners and Irish pubs to encourage creativity.

At your interview, ask what adjectives they would use to describe their workplace culture – and then ask for examples of how those adjectives are put to use in management initiatives and people’s day-to-day interactions.

Best boss fit.

Those gym and exercise classes show how Google as a company works hard to boost not just your productivity but also your general vitality and lifespan. They know this will encourage the line managers to do the same – and they know this is how they will get the most and the best from their staff.

Amy says: “We’re very proud of our work environment, and we talk about it in the recruitment process.”

At your interview, ask about the work environment and what the company does to keep people working happily and healthily. This tells you whether they will be proactively encouraging your boss to look after you.

You need to meet your potential boss, too, if they are not in the room. And consider asking them something that gives you a hint of the real person. Something like: “If I get the chance to work for you, what are your three worst working habits?”

You can’t underestimate the importance of best boss fit. As workforce expert Roger Herman puts it, 75% of people quit their bosses, not their job.

Then there’s the team. Randstad consultant Joanne Cuthbert says: “Ask what personalities are on the team, and how they got to where they are. Get to meet them if you can.”

Best job fit.

Google use analytics and psychology to hire the best candidates. Then they go one step further to make sure the people they hire get career growth.

“We have a team dedicated to internal mobility, and people change roles within our company a great deal,” says Amy. “If we hired people fit for just one role, we wouldn’t be able to offer them much career development.”

It’s a great sign if a company is planning your career development even before you join the company. So at your interview, ask how interested they are in the skills you have that aren’t on the job spec. And when you meet the team, ask discreetly how much scope for career development they have had since they joined.

Remember, most companies want to be good at this stuff, but it’s time consuming and tricky. So you need to look past their good intentions and check for signs that they are walking all that fine talk.

Interview checklist.

  • Ask what adjectives would they use to describe their working environment
  • Ask for examples of management encouraging a happy, productive workplace
  • Make sure you meet your boss, and the team you’ll be working with
  • Ask future colleagues if they have had much scope for career growth
  • See if the company is interested in your skills that aren’t on the job spec
  • Above all, look for confirmation that talk of a great culture is more than talk