The gray couch
Great post and very important story
By accident we “created” the situation that did what you described and it became a key instrument in our hiring process:
We were roughly 25 people and moved into a new office (1997). I had a gray leather couch that I moved from home to my office but deposited it in the hallway. That day we had three people interviewing and we simply asked them to wait on the couch. The hallway was the most frequented spot on the office and many were passing by and actually asked if they could help as nobody knew if the couch was part of their visit or what was going on.
Another coincident was that we had a staff meeting in the afternoon and were talking about “what was that with that couch” they exchanged who they liked and who not right when I cam in. I jokingly asked ‘hey who of these people should we hire” and it turned out that it was the best interview accident we ever had. What was a jokingly asked question became a core part of our hiring process.
The couch never made it to my office it became the synonym for culture check “Have you been on the gray couch?”….
Today almost 20 years, two digit growth year over year and half a billion in revenue later — I attribute the success to that accidentally developed culture navigator and homogeneous team with unbreakable ties.