> "There are so many development houses where this is not allowed that you just have to deal with it unless you are going to spend your entire life at one company under one boss (not realistic). I suppose you could always ask the question at the end of an interview but that might come across as a little bit petty."
Or, you know, honest.
I would never work in an environment where I couldn't at least occasionally be putting on the headphones and getting into the zone. I know it works for me, I know I produce kickass results that way, and I know some days absolutely nothing else is going to work. It's not my sole means of work; I do plenty of interactions and sometimes me leaving the headphones off and kibitzing when I hear someone get stuck over the cube walls helps others get into the zone. However, any boss that was going to ban my headphones... well, he honestly wouldn't be my boss for long. That's not arrogance speaking, it's confidence that he's simply wrong in his assumptions and I'd be glad to show him entire subsystems of our architecture written to the Essential Mix broadcast. If he still doesn't like it, then I'm going to just be the arrogant dickhead creative type that leaves his employ -- I'd see that as a sign of deeper issues that are inevitably going to manifest as bigger problems. That sort of boss doesn't "get it" in a way that is conducive to managing creative people efficiently. In fact, the OP suggests a boss desperate to assign some blame, and grasping at straws -- hardly someone you want in charge of your work.
So, it sounds petty, but I think it matters a lot. Your work environment and the attitudes you deal with are absolutely going to influence the results of your work. I'm going to argue that the bottom line for the company really does want me to wear my headphones, and if you can't at least ponder the possibility that I might be right... you're not really understanding your technical business.