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The elephant in the room, for many of us: What would be my physical environment?

I like a challenging problem. I don't like fighting a bunch of extraneous noise and distraction while trying to concentrate on it. (Collaboration is just fine. Noise is not.)

I've yet to see a clear formula for addressing this concern in a neutral fashion (or, perceived as neutral or acceptable).

Any company that can advertise a quiet working environment would have a huge boost with me and other developers who care about that sort of thing. I'm not looking for a private office, but open plan offices with dozens or hundreds of programmers lined up seem incredibly depressing to me.

I think it is OK to ask 'where would I be working? I find I'm most productive in quieter settings?'

Any interviewer that is offended by this seems like they work for a company worth avoiding.

If you're trying to remove or drastically limit the human element, that is a sign that you need to freelance.

Agreed, but limiting the human element (as opposed to 'drastically limiting') can lead to better productivity.

But most developers work better in offices with doors that shut (at least according to what I remember of Peopleware [http://www.amazon.com/Peopleware-Productive-Projects-Second-...], though that was published before IM was everywhere).

So I think acknowledging that you work better with quiet, and framing it as 'I want to be as effective as I can', is fine.

It can even open up a discussion on true effectiveness--if I am writing tons of great code because it is quiet, but you could have saved me 8 hours of code writing because of a library you know about or wrote, am I as effective as I could be (no). This is the quiet end of the spectrum.

The loud end is the bullpen with no headphones, where it can be very difficult to think.

Step into the office and take a look? In my experience your first impression is correct 9 out of 10 times.

I got dinged for pointing that out at one agency I went to an interview at.

Did you get dinged, or did you avoid a company that would have been a bad fit?

Bit of both I think - though these sorts of marketing/add agencys are still living in the past.

As the sort of work they are doing becomes more computer/technicly based - they have to change to be able to properly execute - you cant just pick up the phone and bully the printers any more.

You could ask to see where you'll be working?

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