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Interviewing on the Sly

Try These Discreet Spots Where You Won’t Run Into Your Boss

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Ebenezers Coffeehouse near Union Station is a good place for a discreet job interview, except for those who work for the Senate.

The career door is ever-revolving, especially on Capitol Hill.

Staffers come and go, whether they switch from office to office or from the public sector to the private sector. When the job announcements come, the process seems easy: “So-and-so is leaving this office to become a legislative aide at this other office.”

But there’s that tricky interview process in between for employed job seekers whose bosses don’t know they are on the hunt. It’s a conundrum for roaming employees everywhere, but one that holds special significance in the insular Beltway community, where it can sometimes seem as if everyone knows one another.

So where can an applicant and prospective employer meet discreetly? 

Roll Call conducted an informal reader survey this summer to see where people go for job interviews. Most suggest getting off the Hill altogether. One former Hill staffer advised: “Don’t do it at Capitol Lounge. It’s too obvious.” But if staying close is the only option, Roll Call picked five safe spaces for bragging about your résumé and describing your dream job.

Care for a Cup of Coffee? 

The Starbucks at 237 Pennsylvania Ave. SE is full of Capitol Hill staffers and Members of Congress, but they usually come just to pop in, place an order and head right on out. Rarely frequented is the upstairs seating area, where the atmosphere is quiet and relaxed. It’s also far enough from the barista station that you won’t have to worry about running into your boss. 

“Most people don’t even realize there’s an upstairs to that Starbucks,” one current Hill staffer said. “It’s a good place to know about.” 

Another place for an interview over cappuccinos is Ebenezers Coffeehouse (201 F St. NE). The shop is appreciated for its range of coffee choices and eclectic music performances, and its location near Union Station makes it unlikely that a job seeker would run into colleagues from the House. 

But be aware that it’s just blocks from the Senate office buildings. 

Let’s Grab a Meal

For the sit-down interview over food, avoid the spots along Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast or at Union Station. Instead, hit up Jimmy T’s Place (501 East Capitol St. SE). 

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