Knuckle Cracking Right Out Of A Job

by admin on June 23, 2014

What is it with people CONSTANTLY cracking their knuckles these days? I don’t care where I am there is someone if not carefully pulling and cracking each finger one at a time, they are loudly cracking their neck! I know it is not harmful to the person cracking, but I personally find the sound and watching the motions, disgusting to the point of feeling sick to my stomach.

I am a mid level manager and interviewed a potential employee the other day who cracked his knuckles almost the entire time he sat in front of me. Then he put his hands on his head and physically turned it left and right to make that crack as well! The thought of this well qualified person putting the same show on each day as he worked or heaven forbid, while meeting with a client, made me put his application in the round filing cabinet under my desk! 0620-14

And people wonder why they are unemployed.

{ 116 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah June 23, 2014 at 7:06 am

I would have told him that the knuckle cracking was putting me off. (Unless that would be illegal!?) Maybe something like “I wonder if cracking your knuckles is one of your habits because it is not a habit I would encourage in this office”. If he replies that he does not normally, that it is nerves; maybe you do not want to risk employing him only to find he cannot stop (or worse once he is employed just does as he feels!) but it could be good advice for his next job interview. I agree with you – cracking parts of the body creeps me out and I have been known to get up from my hard won seat in the train and stand rather than be in earshot of this habit!


Miss-E June 23, 2014 at 7:28 am

It’s a nervous habit. What’s more nerve-wracking than a job interview?


Mary June 23, 2014 at 7:45 am

There are several other “nervous habits” that aren’t appropriate for a job interview either.


DanaJ June 23, 2014 at 10:30 am

Wetting your pants is also a sign of stress – but I’d hope someone would be able to have the presence of mind to contain themselves whenever life gets a bit tense.

My DP is a nail-chewer when under stress, but woudn’t be caught dead doing so in an interview.


Rod June 23, 2014 at 11:03 am

For sure it is. And a bad habit. What if he was picking his nose, biting nails, fiddling with his tie, sucking on his thumb?

I crack both my knuckles and neck. But not during a meeting.


Miss-E June 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I’m not saying it is acceptable behavior. I’m only pointing out WHY someone might do it during an interview.

I also don’t know if it would necessarily put me off from hiring a really well-qualified person. One of the best employees I ever had jiggled his leg like crazy throughout the entire interview. I thought he was going to vibrate off the edge of his chair. But he was well-qualified and nice and turned out to be awesome.


Rod June 24, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Sure. You weigh the good with the bad. I’ve worked with absolute social headcases that were geniuses in their field (physics, optics). They were hired despite their bad habits, not because of them being “charming eccentricities”. Just something else to keep in mind while hiring – in this case, a guy doing stuff mostly on his own with little need for interaction? Little problem. In other cases the cons might be more worthy of consideration.


LR June 23, 2014 at 8:01 am

In a stressful situation like a job interview, I would view it as a nervous habit and would not assume that the person would be doing it all the time. I wonder if the original poster would feel the same way about a person who bounces their knee, jiggles their pen, or twirls their hair? If we were to exclude any potential candidates based on nervous behavior, the unemployment rate would certainly be much, much higher.


lakey June 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Actually, those behaviors during a job interview could also be a problem. If this is a job interview that is for a job that entails a lot of responsibility, or a job that involves dealing with clients, the fact that the applicant can’t control their nervous habits could be a problem.

I had a friend who was on an interview team and told how they rejected a young, female college graduate because she wore a dress that was a silky material and had a slit in the skirt.
Sadly, she was probably just inexperienced, but this is how it works in the real world, and you hope that someone will set her straight. I’ve also known about people who will call after they are rejected and ask for any information about why they didn’t make it. This has to be a tough thing to do, but it does help.


Goldie June 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I worked with a nervous knee-bouncer. I sat in a cube next to his and my desk was shaking the whole time he sat there. Then after he left, we found out he’d actually put a dent into the cubicle wall, because he kicked it each time he nervously bounced his knee, which was 8 hours a day, every day.

While I probably wouldn’t turn an otherwise qualified job candidate down for something like this, I think it would be REALLY nice if we all tried to be less gross when out in public, especially around our coworkers. Most of us sit in cube farms or open-office areas and as such we should be cognizant of people who are sitting next to us and are trying to work. The sound and the feeling of my cubicle wall being kicked, distracted me from my work. Another colleague that sat across from me, who made loud snorting, sniffling, and horking noises, all day, every day, was also hugely distracting to me. I had to get earbuds and listen to music all day to drown out his bodily noises. Between those two, it was very hard to get my work done. Other coworkers who sat in our area, had the same problem.


badkitty June 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Hair twirling can’t be heard through the whole office


Miss-E June 23, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Neither can knuckle-cracking unless its a very, very quiet office or some very. very arthritic knuckles.


Shawn June 23, 2014 at 8:12 am

That seems like a petty reason to reject someone for employment. You could have told him it was a bad idea to do it on the job, and that it would be off-putting to potential clients. If he appeared to take the advice to heart, you could at least evaluate him equally with the other candidates.


nk June 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm

It’s not petty at all. If a person can’t even act professional during a JOB INTERVIEW, when they’re trying to make a good impression, why should the interviewer assume they’ll be professional on the job?


Anonymous June 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I agree. Has anyone else ever seen Gilmore Girls, where Emily Gilmore, Lorelai’s mother, has a new maid almost every episode, because she’s constantly firing them for trivial reasons? It’s kind of a running joke, until one episode, where one of her former maids sues her for wrongful dismissal, and Lorelai has to testify in Emily’s favour. Anyway, I’m not saying that this is going to happen, but that’s what this situation reminds me of–the knuckle cracking might just be this guy’s one bad habit, and he might otherwise be brilliant, hardworking, kind, and just a straight-up awesome person. He might be trying to stop the knuckle-cracking, and he might not even realize he’s doing it. My point is, everyone probably has at least one or two bad habits, and if it was enough to preclude employment, then nothing would ever get done. For example, a colleague and friend of mine, from the gym where I teach yoga, does this weird sort of mouth-clicking thing when she’s teaching, but she’s really nice, and funny, and she’s a good instructor. She’s taught me a lot of things about yoga and about life, so compared to all of that, the mouth-clicking just isn’t that earth-shattering. Now, my friend has been teaching various fitness classes for ten years (and I’ve been teaching yoga for three years), so, if everyone had summarily decided to reject her over the mouth-clicking, then that’s ten years worth of people who she wouldn’t have been able to help on their respective health and fitness journeys. If you told her to stop, then she might remember for one class, but then she’d probably slide back into it after that, because it’s such an ingrained habit for her……but again, it’s not a big enough deal to negate all of her good qualities.


AMC June 24, 2014 at 7:29 am

Very well put! Thank you!


lkb June 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

With hundreds of candidates applying for each position, a candidate can easily be rejected for “petty reasons”. That’s what interviews are for, to find a candidate who is a good fit for an organization. This candidate was not a good fit for this one because he had a habit that drove his potential boss loopy. Perhaps he will find an opening where that is not the case. (Cracking knuckles/joints does not gross me out, for example. If I were the hiring person, I probably wouldn’t think about it (though maybe the neck twisty thing would put me off as unprofessional.)


badkitty June 23, 2014 at 3:31 pm

A job interview is your chance to present yourself to your best advantage. This guy did so, and his “best behavior” includes cracking his knuckles and neck – a habit I’m sure *someone* has mentioned to him at some point. If someone’s very best impression includes things you don’t want in the office – distracting habits, bad BO, a shrill voice or that nervous giggle that could break glass – it’s best not to hire them at all.

Second chances are for people who already made a good first impression.


goddessoftheclassroom June 23, 2014 at 8:14 am

I try my best to point out habits like this (and nail biting, pen tapping/clicking, etc.) to my students (ages 13-14) to make them aware of them and, I hope, control them. These sounds drive me crazy anyway.


Charliesmum June 23, 2014 at 8:16 am

I find this amusing, in a way, because my 16 year old son has recently been cracking his knuckles, and I’m working very hard with him to get him to stop, because it really grosses me out! I’ve never personally done it, but I imagine it makes his hands feel better or something, but I don’t think it’s good for his hands overall. At any rate I told him it will give him arthritis. Will it? I don’t know, but if he stops cracking his knuckles it’s a lie well told.

It’s one of those ‘nails on the chalkboard’ thing. I think it can cause shudders in people, so it’s best to maybe try not to do that in public.


Jenn50 June 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm

No, it does not cause arthritis. As long as it isn’t causing the person pain, there’s no negative physical impact. Asking him to stop doing it in front of you and telling him that many people find it off-putting is fair game, but giving him erroneous medical advice is not a good idea. A simple web search will prove you wrong and then everything you say loses credibility. Besides, consideration fr your feelings should be enough to encourage him to curtail this in your presence.


rachel June 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm

It will not cause arthritis and telling damaging lies to get your way is not a helpful way to raise anyone.


Charliesmum June 24, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Point taken – both you and Jenn50. To be fair I remember being told the arthritis thing, so I thought it might be true, but I will not tell him that again. And I will tell him I was wrong about that aspect of it.

He took up guitar playing a year ago – I do wonder if that’s why? Maybe the way he uses his hands means it makes his hands feel better when he cracks his knuckles? I will probably have took that up!


Jenn50 June 24, 2014 at 4:41 pm

While the guitar could certainly impact it, some people just have “cracky” joints. My brother’s wrist and elbow lock up and need to be popped and my knee often does. When it happens, you feel an uncomfortable resistance to movement, until it pops, then it feels much better.


Rose June 23, 2014 at 8:39 am

I have EDS, which means my joints are constantly subluxing (mildly dislocating or slipping out of place). Sometimes it can be impossible to get a full range of motion, and can even be painful, unless I crack or ‘pop’ a joint back into place. I know that it’s a horribly annoying sound, but it’s harmless to other people, and I would hope that it wouldn’t disqualify me from a job!


remi June 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm

The lad I’m currently seeing cracks his neck all the time, because he’s been in a couple of bad accidents and has a messed up back and neck as a result. He does it because of how painful it gets if it goes too long without getting cracked, he tells me. I hope he hasn’t missed out on any opportunities because of people being annoyed by his disabilities, it seems to me like someone should have a better reason than “they cracked their knuckles” or something to turn you down for a job if otherwise you’d be hired.


Stacey Frith-Smith June 23, 2014 at 4:42 pm

An interview is a chance to show the company what you bring to the table and to mindfully assess whether they are a fit for your goals as well. Hopefully, the advance preparation and rehearsal time put in for the interview, the background research done on the company, the investigation into work conditions, pay and other aspects of the company’s culture will have prepared a serious candidate so that he or she is not too nervous or self-conscious. Hair twirling, gum chewing, knee bouncing, awkward pauses when speaking like “uhh…” or “ummm”, nail biting, knuckle cracking, joint popping, pacing, speaking in an overly loud voice or an overly soft one, failing to make eye contact or to offer a good handshake, dressing inappropriately for the job or industry or in attire that is unbecoming, humming, chewing gum, being tardy, being excessively early, acting entitled, flattering or flirting with the person interviewing you, speaking poorly of your current or former employers, exaggerating your role in projects that appear on your resume, exaggerating your level of education or technical skills- there are just a lot of things you don’t want to do when interviewing and even after you are hired if you plan to stay employed and to advance in your career. Would YOU hire someone who did any of these things if there was also an equally qualified alternate candidate?


Stacey Frith-Smith June 23, 2014 at 4:43 pm

“one” should read “voice”- sorry.


Anonymous June 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Well, that’s true in theory, but in practice, nobody’s perfect. Suppose Fred arrived a few minutes late because he got stuck behind an accident on the highway, and George arrived slightly early because he took public transit and it was cold outside, and there was nowhere else to wait, and Betty was right on time, but she had a scuff on her shoe, Jane was on time and looked perfect, but couldn’t shake hands because she had carpal tunnel syndrome, and so on, and so forth, but all of the candidates were equally qualified? Also, rejecting candidates for “unbecoming clothing” is a little judgmental, because a lot of the time, people who are looking for work, aren’t in the best position financially, and maybe they had to make do with hand-me-downs, or thrift-store finds, or clothes they already had, that are the right type of clothes for the occasion, but maybe they’re a bit worn or something.


Anonymous June 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Anyway, I hit Enter too early. My point is, the “perfect candidate” often doesn’t exist.

Stacey Frith-Smith June 23, 2014 at 8:40 pm

You are right. No one is perfect. I do think that hiring managers look for the best that they can get, however. Just as employees look for the best employer and position. A little scuff on a shoe or a few minutes one way or the other won’t matter to most interviewers. Likewise, a little “snap, crackle, pop” won’t be off-putting if it’s inadvertent. But deliberately cracking your knuckles and using your hands to crack your neck during an interview will cause most interviewers to question your judgement as to appropriate behavior in social and professional situations. Unless, perhaps, you are interviewing with a chiropractor or at a sports medicine clinic…

Zairrin June 23, 2014 at 8:40 am

I have problems in my joints, so my fingers and thumbs crack all the time just by bending them, as do my knees and elbows. Occasionally they lock in place and I have to physically crack them to get them to work again. It hurts and it’s annoying, but I never thought it was disgusting. πŸ™ Not that that’s what going on here, but it’s a possibility. Or a nervous habit.

That being said, I think cracking the neck is going too far. Tilting one’s head to crack your neck is okay, but using the hands just creeps me out for some reason. Maybe I’ve played too much Hitman.


BMS June 23, 2014 at 8:44 am

As a long time cracker of knuckles, necks, elbows and knees, I have to chime in.

For me, I absolutely need to crack things sometimes. My arms literally lock up after a lot of writing or typing. I become unable to continue without cracking my elbows and wrists. My knees and shoulders crack involuntarily, and sometimes quite loudly. I try not to crack my fingers or neck in mixed company, but sometimes it gives a lot of relief from my chronically stiff joints.

In other words, yes, you might find it annoying/gross. But a little empathy might be in order as well. I mean, I find steak to be absolutely disgusting, but I wouldn’t deny someone a job because they ate steak in my presence. I find long elaborate fingernails extremely off-putting, but I wouldn’t refuse to work with someone who had them. To me, this falls in the same category. As long as they’re not doing it in a threatening manner (i.e. cracking their knuckles before taking a swing at you), it’s really more you’re issue than theirs.


timber_wolf June 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm

It’s not just that the manager personally doesn’t like the noise–he’s worried that clients will also not like to interact with an employee who’s constantly cracking his knuckles, so hiring someone who does that might cost them business. To a reasonable degree, managers can expect their employees to look and act a certain way. People with long elaborate fingernails, to use your example, may be expected to cut them if they want a job in the food industry or something similar. I worked a retail job where employees were not allowed have facial hair, painted nails, or visible tattoos. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things on their own, but in the context of that job, you had to refrain from having them, just as the man OP describes will have to refrain from constantly cracking his knuckles if he wants to get a job dealing with clients.


Elizabeth June 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Some activities need to be conducted in private


Cat June 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm

I know you didn’t mean it this way, but I had the vision of a candidate for a job showing up with a full steak dinner and tucking in during the job interview. “Sorry, I have to eat this while it’s hot.” Thank you for the laugh.


Moralia June 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I think it provides the manager with an opportunity to see how the candidate takes feedback. After the second knuckle-cracking, saying “It might sound odd to you, but joint cracking sounds kind of disturb me. Would you mind waiting ’till we’re done?”
How he reacts would be very enlightening.


Wild Irish Rose June 23, 2014 at 9:11 am

Guilty as charged. I know it’s annoying and I try not to do it constantly, but sometimes I just do it without thinking, mostly when my hands get stiff and sore (and yes, I know that cracking my knuckles contributes to that, so please hold off on that sermon). But frankly, I’d MUCH rather listen to that than to the sound of someone chomping and popping his chewing gum.

The thing is, EVERYONE has a habit that gets on other people’s nerves. The guy in the job interview should definitely have known better, but frankly, that should not keep people unemployed. No one is perfect in every way, and to pass up a potentially great employee just because he cracks his knuckles is ridiculous and a wee bit unfair. OP, are you planning to tell that guy that this is why he didn’t get the job? Or are you going to make something up so you don’t come across like an intolerant jerk?


mharbourgirl June 23, 2014 at 9:12 am

Miss-E, you’re correct that it is a nervous habit, but we’ve all got nervous habits. I play with my hair, chew on my fingers, and fidget constantly, but I am aware of these things and I make it a point to not do them when I’m in a job interview (especially in an interview!) because that’s the only thing people will remember about me if I don’t. Just like in the letter above, the only thing that manager could remember about ‘Knuckles’ was his incessant crackling, not his skills or experience or knowledge. And the guy did NOT get the job. His lack of focus and self-awareness is his weakness, and that is something he definitely needs to work on.


Anna Wood June 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm

I totally agree. A job interview is the first impression the employer has of you.


badkitty June 23, 2014 at 3:43 pm

“His lack of focus and self-awareness is his weakness, and that is something he definitely needs to work on.”

Thank you for putting it so succinctly. This isn’t about the fact that his particular “habit” is disgusting and distracting – and harmful! It’s about the fact that he can’t get a handle on his behavior for the 15 minutes he was in his interviewer’s presence.


Jessica June 23, 2014 at 9:23 am

My knuckle cracking is a nervous habit. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. I have had people politely ask me to stop, which I oblige no problem. I don’t even realize I’m doing it sometimes. Although I don’t recall ever doing it in a job interview. I certainly wouldn’t crack my neck! It’s gotten much better since I started seeing a doctor about anxiety issues.


TheCatLady June 23, 2014 at 9:26 am

I have a young co-worker that sits next to me, in an engineering office. He is a talented, good looking kid with a lot of potential. He can be likable, and finishes his projects on time. HOWEVER, He constantly hacks and spits into our shared garbage can, cracks his knuckles, trims his nails, and over shares constantly. He recently hurt his ankle and always has his wrapping and boot off, and constantly shows it. He is developing a reputation as the office drama queen, and just being a big baby. We (myself and the other 4 people in the cube) have told him numerous times that the spitting is unacceptable and everything else is just weird. He has cleaned up his behavior somewhat; he doesn’t spit when guests are in the cube, but unfortunately, being 15 years older than he is, he seems to think I am his mother, and his social grace drops alarmingly around me… He has imprinted on me like a baby duckling, and can’t seem to function without constant validation.

I have noticed that a lot of his generation seems to have been raised absent of any sense of shame. My office is constantly stunned at the new hires lack of proffessionalism and socially unacceptable behavior… almost like they were raised by artificial life forms in an emotionally sterile environment, where their perception of humanity was viewed through a window and every human interaction was staged for their benefit and entertainment, and if they made a mistake they could just start over again with very little consequences.

Weird right?


Dee June 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I think you have identified at least one major problem with some people in the younger generations. It seems that all the coddling and hyper vigilance can produce people who cannot work (or live?) independently, and who are of the belief that they are so special their habits cannot be irritating to others. Their parents praise them no matter how annoying they are so everyone else loves them, no matter what, right?


rachel June 23, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Those bad habits have nothing to do with age but good job stereotyping anyone younger than you.


Goldie June 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm

It’s not a generation thing – I just posted about two guys in their 40s and 50s who had gross personal habits, although I’ve got to say, none of them as bad as this guy’s!

I’d have HR talk to him. I wouldn’t be able to do any work if someone was spitting into a garbage can in front of me. He needs to lose this habit fast, before it gets him in trouble at his future jobs.


Cathy June 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I’ve noticed the same thing. Is it the Facebook generation?? They just don’t seem to have much social awareness or any idea that every facet of their being is not interesting to the rest of the world. I’ve also noticed, while in stores, that many young employees don’t know that loudly discussing their drunken weekend revels in full earshot of customers (while using crude language and cuss words) is inappropriate. Really strange.


Kim June 23, 2014 at 9:58 am

Knuckle-cracking CREEPS me out! I hate it!

I try not to mention it unless it happens over and over and then I give them a gross face. Everyone always apologizes, so it is something that I think people recognize generally as being something you do not do in public.


Kim June 23, 2014 at 10:00 am

To a point, I have to deal with it (yuk!), but the knuckle-crackers also have to work at curtailing what can be an annoying habit to the people around them.


~Dessa~ June 23, 2014 at 10:02 am

I don’t crack my knuckles. I also don’t grab my head to crack my neck. That said, my neck and back crack on their own. I only have to move, not even a certain way, just move. It is part of my disability. It hurts when it happens, so I have sympathetic pain when I hear other people’s joints crack.

Is it polite, however, to ask others to stop?


Steve June 23, 2014 at 10:28 am

I think of the two people in that room, the manager is the one that does not deserve a job.

If you cannot put people at ease during an interview, that is a job performance issue on your part that needs to be addressed; if you cannot build the necessary skills, you need to be terminated. This is more than a matter of required courtesy to applicants. It is critical to extracting the information required to determine whether a particular candidate offers essential resources that your organization needs. If you find it so difficult to determine whether knuckle cracking is a reaction to the stress of a job interview, or if it is a perpetual habits that will resist attempts to extinguish it, then you need to be schooled by more qualified interviewer, or find a role for yourself that does not entail management responsibilities. Incidentally, the response that ” applicants should not display any nervous habits during interviews” is not an argument; it is simply another symptom of a job skill deficit on the part of the manager.


Jenn50 June 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Interesting theory. In my role interviewing firefighter candidates, I’m looking specifically NOT to put them at ease. I actually try to put people a little off balance to see how they handle stress. I find something about their resume or some answer they’ve given, or an entry on their driver’s abstract, and challenge them to see how they’re going to take pressure and conflict. I’ve learned some very telling things by doing this. I wouldn’t rule someone out on cracking their knuckles when nervous, because that’s not a problematic response to stress for us. But I’ve ruled many people out when they got weepy or angry, or flustered beyond recovery when challenged, because those conducts are going to cause conflict amongst employees and the public, at best, and could cost lives at their worst. And even though most people aren’t interviewing for life or death jobs, I’d think job stress is universal and you’d want to know how the candidate reacts to it, to rule out people who lash out or fall apart when things get stressful or they get corrected. Again, I think ruling someone out because they cracked their joints, absent other issues is a little precious, but putting the interviewee at ease is not as revealing as keeping the pressure up a bit. I expect to be able to see nerves, but I also want to see that they can cope without coming unglued.


Dominic June 25, 2014 at 7:58 am

I can’t agree either that it is the role of an job candidate interviewer to put the interviewee at ease. I don’t want employees or co-workers who require hand-holding and coddling to get job performance out of them. Note that the OP didn’t try to analyze why this candidate was constantly cracking his joints. OP was only concerned with the effect, not the cause, as I would be.

The point here is not the skills of the interviewer, but the problem the interviewee has, which for many interviewers and many jobs would make him an unsuitable candidate.


Shalamar June 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

I *loathe* knuckle-cracking. I have misophonia, and I often think it’s a good thing that I’m not in charge of hiring employees, otherwise I’d probably refuse to hire anyone who:

– cracks their knuckles
– giggles constantly
– speaks too softly
– mumbles
– sings all the time
– whistles
– hums
– types loudly (the machine gun ratta-tat-tat kind of typing)

And the list goes on!


Dee June 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I wonder if employees would be very grateful if you WERE the one in charge of hiring? I think I would, calmly knowing that management won’t force me to work with people who delight in being annoying to others.


Cathy June 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Same here – my tolerance for people’s noises is pretty low, so it rules out a certain segment of the population as potential friends. Humming all the time is especially annoying.


goddessoftheclassroom June 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm

WHISTLING!! OMG, that drives me nuts, too!!!!


MollyMonster June 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

Same here. I CANNOT abide food and mouth noises (unless I am partaking in the meal also). Chomping, chewing, swallowing, slurping, finger licking and lip smacking all get my rage-0-meter climbing. I hate KitKat commercials, cereal commercials, and any other one where I have to listen to people masticating the product. I have to leave the office when my officemate digs into her lunch. One guy on a project I worked on had this weird throat clicking noise he was CONSTANTLY making–I don’t know if he was even aware of it, but it was so weird and annoying. He was higher ranked than I was so I made sure to get a new project right quick. I had a professor who was always adjusting his dentures and clearing his throat (3 and 4 times a minute–I counted) and that was the most painful semester of my life.

I hate the sound of sniffling and throat clearing, but couldn’t care less about coughing and nose blowing. Guess my brain just wants people to expel the mucus rather than play with it. When the guy down the hall starts clipping his nails, I can tolerate it for about five minutes before I have to shout “How many (bloody) nails do you have?!”

As a note, I am not in charge of hiring anyone, I don’t take my coworker to task for eating her lunch in a way I don’t like, but the coworker who is clipping his nails can take care of that stuff at home. Cuz, eww. It is funny that my list of noises is totally different from yours, Shalamar.


Shalamar June 25, 2014 at 10:29 am

Not so different, MollyMonster – I just didn’t list all of mine. πŸ˜€ Nail-clipping, throat-clearing, gum-cracking, sniffling – yup, those are triggers for me as well.

I used to work as a contractor, and there was a guy in the office who constantly cracked his gum. His boss hated the noise even more than I did and sharply reprimanded him every time he did it, to the point that he was afraid to even chew gum around her. Then she went on vacation, and he said gleefully “Now I can crack my gum all I want!” (It never seemed to occur to him that it wasn’t just her that had a problem with it.) Because I was only a temporary employee and he outranked me, I was too intimidated to say anything. That was a miserable couple of weeks.


kingsrings June 23, 2014 at 10:31 am

I’ve been cracking my knuckles since I was a child. And my back needs to be cracked, too. But I know when not to do it. Believe it or not, the sound of other people cracking their knuckles drives me crazy! But not the sound I make. Makes no sense. When I’m with other people in close proximity, I crack my knuckles discreetly, such as under the table. I would never do it in a job interview. That’s a good way to turn people off.


Cerys June 23, 2014 at 10:55 am

So let’s get this straight. You put the application of a well-qualified person in the bin because you, personally, found his nervous joint-cracking unpleasant? What a wonderfully professional and fair middle manager you must be!


Shalamar June 25, 2014 at 10:31 am

Wow. That was unnecessarily harsh.


Cerys June 25, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Yes, you’re right. My apologies to the OP, and to anyone else who found my comment unfair.


Phitius June 23, 2014 at 10:58 am

I often have to crack my neck to relieve actual physical tension that leads to a throbbing headache which begins at the base of my neck.

I would never do it in a situation like an interview though. I wonder if the person was even aware he was doing it.


Double You June 23, 2014 at 11:10 am

It may sound silly, but when I read this I realised that I had never seen (or at least noticed) anyone doing this. Anywhere. At all.

I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it sounds like, and had to look up a YouTube video (seems like there’s at least one YouTube video available for whatever silly topic you’re looking for these days)… only to discover that I can’t do it. No matter how hard I try, I have “silent knuckles”.

I can imagine it being an annoying sight and sound, though… and after reading this I’ll no doubt start spotting knuckle-crackers on subways and trains, during meetings, etc. I think I’ve opened Pandora’s box here! πŸ˜‰


Joni June 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I can’t snap my fingers! Guess I have ‘quiet knuckles’ too.


Skaramouche June 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

Interesting, OP. I can see how this would be annoying but no one cracks his/her knuckles or neck or any other body part around me so I find it really fascinating that you run into this wherever you go. I wonder if this is a geographic anomaly or whether I’ve just been lucky enough not to have experienced it!


rachel June 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm

My guess is the OP is obsessed and takes note every time it happens whereas the average person would forget seconds after witnessing it.

Cracking joints is a fact of life for most people. I’m glad routine biological functions don’t upset me.


A different Tracy June 24, 2014 at 1:34 pm

For “most people?” I honestly don’t know ANYONE who does it on a regular basis.


DanaJ June 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Me neither!

Besides that, routine biological functions CAN be disruptive and affect how you are perceived by your peers in the office: Are you an “appreciated team member” or a “regular annoyance”?

Several years ago during some economically driven downsizing, when it came down to two equally qualified individuals, Burpy Slurpy was the one who was laid off. All things being equal, the other employee was better liked as a result of not being a nuisance/distraction.


Jay June 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm

.. and then that kid went on to found Microsoft. The end.


Teacup June 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Any other knuckle crackers out there suddenly feel the urge to do it after reading all the commentary about the subject?
I have the weirdest sympathetic response to seeing or reading about joint cracking. If I were the interviewer I would have had to sit there and fight the urge to crack all the joints in my fingers, even if I hadn’t felt the need to do it in weeks. πŸ™‚

As someone who has picked at her fingers almost as soon as I was old enough to discover I had fingernails, I understand not being able to control a nervous habit and that sometimes you do it without conscious thought. I once told my husband, it’s so ingrained it’s like breathing; you have to put more conscience thought into stopping than you would if you kept going, and, gosh darn it, it’s so easy to get distracted and inhale.
I also know that it is possible to sit through an interview without indulging in said habit (all though it’s no holds barred on the drive to the interview).
Perhaps he has not had anyone in his life make him aware of his habit and because cracking joints has no immediate visible effects, he might not even realize the severity. I know I can gauge my level of stress by looking at my fingers and think “Oh gosh, I really need to pay more attention to that today.”


PhDeath June 23, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Given how brutally unforgiving the job market is, we would probably all be well-served to examine our unconscious habits before hitting a job interview. The sad truth is that with dozens (hundreds? thousands??) of applicants for an open position, little quirks can disqualify us.

I know that I tend to yawn when I’m anxious – it’s a byproduct of holding my breath when I’m under pressure. While I would never openly yawn in an interview, I’ve worked hard on regulating my breathing to decrease anxiety and to ensure that I don’t have to make that horrid face one makes when trying to stifle a yawn.


JennJenn68 June 23, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Hear, hear. I was wondering when someone would point out the fact that the job market is so tight that potential employers have to use all criteria possible to winnow down the huge pile of resumes and possible interviewees. It’s not a question of discrimination, folks; it’s just life. When you have to wade through a thousand resumes and then a hundred and fifty interviews (I wish I was exaggerating!) you have to use whatever you can to make it realistic, even if it’s something that many of you seem to think is trivial. There ain’t no such animal in a job interview situation, people!


Shoebox June 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Personally I’ve never understood what the problem is with knuckle-cracking, but then again I can also hear the sound of nails on a chalkboard without cringing (the sound of a knife screeching across a plate, on the other hand – brrrrr!)

However, the OP doesn’t like it, fine. I’m much more concerned about her smug dismissal of an apparently well-qualified candidate for what amounts to an extremely petty personal reason. Never mind that he might’ve been understandably nervous; never mind that he might otherwise have taken the interview very seriously, and indeed been the best candidate; never mind that he, or by extension any family he might have, really needed the job. The OP gets to publicly congratulate herself on striking a blow against minor personal eccentricity in the workplace, and that’s what really matters. /sarcasm


DanaJ June 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm

If you had several equally qualified candidates, would you pick the annoying one or the one who is self-aware enough to maintain a professional demeanor while under stress?

I would prefer to hire the person who can stay calm and collected during a tense meeting, an important deadline, or difficult negotiations without falling back on a mindless tick and or oblivious behaviour.

HOW you conduct yourself during an interview plays a significant role in the selection process.

And while you chastise the OP that the candidate and his family may really have needed that job, a hiring manager’s priority is most definitely not the candidate or his family. As a hiring manager, my mandate is to find the best fit for the company. The candidate’s family is not my responsiblity. I look for the most qualified individual who is also a good match for our corporate culture.

Barring a medical condition, someone who exhibits disruptive stress habits during an interview would likely not be hired here either.


Outdoor Girl June 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm

An interview is where you put your absolutely best foot forward to showcase yourself in the best possible light. An interviewee who thinks nothing of cracking knuckles during the interview? What else will they do once they have the job? Clip toenails in their cube, for example?

I wouldn’t have said anything to this person but I would also have put their resume in the recycling. If they asked for an interview debriefing, I would tell them straight up that their knuckle and neck cracking was extremely off putting in an interview setting and was a big contributor to them not getting the job for fear of them repeating the performance at an equally inappropriate time and/or place.

For those that mentioned they need to occassionally crack their joints for comfort? I don’t have a problem with that as long as you excuse yourself to the washroom or your own cube/office with no one else present. I would compare it to clipping your fingernails, actually. I would never do that in front of someone in a work setting.


NostalgicGal June 23, 2014 at 1:09 pm

My DH did this a lot-pop his knuckles, I asked him to scale it back just because. There are times something NEEDS it (pull the finger straight out traction thing) and that is different. To be clicking along during an interview is another. I have a few noisy joints, such as going up and down stairs and if I roll my hand/wrist yes it makes noise, but it’s not something I do consciously or continually. It’s just that I move and occasionally make noise. I can understand that. With DH I also did a demo, I was cutting up a chicken for frying and did the pop the knee and hip joints as I cut it up, and told him that’s what it sounds like when he DOES that. With a ‘yuuuuk’ and that mental image, it’s helped him cut back!

Gum chewers I abhor because so many of them smack and chomp along with mouth open and it’s just gross. At least if they were eating they’d get done eventually and swallow it and STOP. Whistlers I do have urges to whack with a baseball bat because I have tinntinitus and you can easily hit frequencies that cause me real and instant PAIN by whistling. (no I don’t hit them but I can be a little aggrevated when I am standing there wincing in pain with my fingers in my ears and requesting they STOP please NOW) Oh, yeah, do close your mouth with you chew, don’t smack and slurp, please?

I’m told cracking knuckles won’t cause arthritis but. It’s just an annoyance to most around you; and if the person in the interview can set the interviewer so on edge they don’t want that person anywhere near the building….

It is polite to ask someone to stop cracking joints when they are doing so purposely and repeatedly. The occasional body noise or like a stretch, having put the hands together just so and causing one round of cracks then STOPPING; is not the issue.


Cathy June 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I’d tend to look at the cracking behavior as a lack of self-awareness and social skills. That would make me, as an interviewer, question the rest of the person’s behavior. If he doesn’t know not to do this (or can’t control himself) during a short interview, what else is he unaware of, how is he going to behave on the job, around customers or associates? This might seem judgmental, but it’s a part of what an interviewer would look for in a potential employee. A lot of people nowadays don’t seem to be able to differentiate between behavior that is best kept inside their own homes and what is appropriate outside that sphere. While I agree that no one is perfect, and some very intelligent people have poor social skills, I would look more closely at this person to assess him for employment.


camlan June 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I was in a grad school seminar with a guy who constantly cracked his knuckles. One at a time, on the edge of the table. He’d do his left hand, then his right, pause a minute or two and start all over again. Over and over and over for a 3 hour class.

Drove me nuts. I finally asked him during the break one day if he could cut down on the knuckle-cracking a bit during class, and he gave me a blank stare. Seems he was unaware that he was doing it, it had become such a habit. And he never really slowed down with the cracking, even though he said he’d try.

Cracking your knuckles during an entire interview sure makes it sound like the job candidate has a similar habit.

And if you can’t control that during an interview, when most people are on their best behavior, I’d be tempted to think along with the OP that he wouldn’t be able to control himself on the job. He have to be the absolute best possible candidate for the position to even be considered.

I can usually tell when someone’s joint cracks involuntarily, or they just need to do one crack. But it sounds like this job candidate was like my fellow student, so unaware of what he was doing that it would be a difficult habit to break.


Princess Buttercup June 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm

What an odd thing to be overly upset about. A light popping noise here and there makes you reject a possibly quility worker.

Even if it does bother you the proper response is “That fidgeting is distracting and unprofessional. Please don’t do it anymore.”. Discarding a potential quality employee because you get overly annoyed at a small habit, is quite unprofessional on it’s own.


Stacey Frith-Smith June 23, 2014 at 8:59 pm

The interviewer isn’t in the position of being able to correct the applicant, who is also an adult. There is no relationship that would give him (or her) the standing to make a personal remark. He (or she) is free, however, to assess the applicant not only on industry-related or job-specific skills, but also on other aspects of their overall presence…including how they conduct themselves and what quirks they display.


camlan June 23, 2014 at 9:56 pm

A light popping noise here and there is one thing.

From the OP: “who cracked his knuckles almost the entire time he sat in front of me. Then he put his hands on his head and physically turned it left and right to make that crack as well! ”

This sounds like the job candidate never stopped cracking his knuckles, except when he was cracking his neck.

If the job position requires client contact, the constant knuckle cracking could be off-putting to the clients. Or make the knuckle-cracker seem nervous and lacking in confidence. That alone would be enough for many employers to turn down his application.

And even if the job isn’t client-facing, most offices these days are cube farms. Everyone within earshot would have to listen to the knuckle-cracking all day long. Just visit the forums here to see how people view co-workers who chew loudly, or eat crunchy foods, or file their nails, or snap their gum in a cube farm.

Part of a job interview is accessing the candidate’s skills. Part of is is assessing how well the candidate will fit in with his/her new co-workers. Will they be a team player? Will they get along with most of them? Will most of them get along with him/her?

It is a mistake to hire someone who will antagonize the rest of the staff. It will only lead to personnel problems that the manager will need to address, taking time away from other work. If the OP saw future problems looming with Mr. Knuckle-Cracker, he did the right thing for the company, although maybe not for the job candidate, in rejecting his application.


Rod June 24, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Meh. You never hire the perfect candidate, just the one that seemed least flawed at the time.

So yeah- we can go on all sorts of scenarios. In every one of them, the equivalent candidate with less annoying habits win.

I was once hired as an intern for a 2 year term in a major multinational. It was a long process – test, three interviews with middle people, and one who would be with your “boss” for the term. I was told I was hired because I actually showed up on time, with a suit, clean and seemed articulate compared to the other two candidates who showed up for the final stages underdressed and unkempt – we all had a similar engineering background, we all had top marks in the test.

So yeah, some of these things count. Make sure to be aware of them.


schnickelfritz June 23, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I couldn’t crack a joint to save my life. How do you crack your neck? It seems like it would be a relief of some kind!

I have never been to a chiropractor, but the idea of the spine alignment sounds so cool too – like you would manipulate all the discs back into place, and feel better in places that have been stiff for a long time. I hear that when you go to chiro, there is a huge pop and relief to your stiffness / pain. Is that true?

I am afraid to crack my own neck, I might hurt myself permanently!


Zepheera June 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I’m a joint cracker since childhood, knuckles, neck, back, ankles, and once in a while my elbows if the tension builds up. Personally, I do it because I develop tension in my body that will progress to feeling as though my muscles are cramping painfully. Cracking my joins relieves that pressure and helps be avoid pain. I don’t, however, use my hands to force my neck to pop.

In addition, since a knee injury last year, my right need pops and cracks (sounds just like someone cracking their knuckles one at a time, and is VERY audible) without notice. This isn’t a constant thing, but I am sure it’s at least once or twice a day that SOMETHING pops. Often, I don’t even realize I’ve cracked my knuckles. I’d hate for something so small to cost me a job opportunity, especially since it’s not something that reduces my productivity or reliability.


NostalgicGal June 23, 2014 at 10:56 pm

The OP said the person did the cracking nearly continuously through the entire interview. That is different than an occasional needful… click, crack or pop.


Marie June 23, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I personally would never crack my knuckles (or other body parts), but I have to admit I do this on occasion at work.

It’s not a nervous tick, because it doesn’t happen every day, but sometimes you just feel like one of your limbs is ‘stuck’, ‘annoying to move around’ and you feel a general unpleasant feeling in the limb. Cracking it can relieve that tension and make sure you feel well enough again to continue work. Especially when you’re in a job where you are typing a lot, you can have this in your fingers.

As long as it’s not something you do all day, I see no harm in it. Some people scrape their knives on their plates, ladies wear high heels that clack all day, someone else might be drumming with their fingers or humming all day… I’d say cracking your knuckles every other day is far less annoying.


Cat June 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm

If you want a job, the first thing you do during the interview is to put yourself in the very best light you can without sounding like an egocentric lout. Leave the hair-curlers, gum, cigarettes, shorts/tee shirts, and annoying habits at home. It is not the time to take a stiff drink to “calm your nerves” before the interview either.
I have known young people who brought their parents with them to negotiate the best deal they could get. When one young woman was asked what her greatest weakness in work habits was, she happily declared that she was perfect in all aspects of her work. (We doubted that she was in contact with reality after that little remark.) Another person decided to pick at the interviewer’s desk to see if she could detach the edging that was around the desk. And, for Heaven’s sake, don’t lie about your college degree, high school diploma, or make up fake references.


A different Tracy June 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Yes, it probably is a nervous habit. And yes, it *is* unfortunate that someone who is otherwise qualified might miss out on a job because of a nervous habit. But that’s just how it goes. If I were hiring, and I had the choice between two equally qualified people, and one of them had a habit that drives me up a wall? I’d pick the other one.


Magicdomino June 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm

A company has one job opening. The company receives over a hundred applications, maybe a couple of hundred. Over half of those can be discarded because the applicant doesn’t follow instructions, isn’t qualified, can’t spell, lists Hogswarts under education, etc. The company has 35 applicants left for interviews. For one reason or another, 15 show up for interviews. Of that, the company has 5 good candidates. Three are very good candidates with equally excellent qualifications. One of those three cracked his knuckles and neck during the interview, annoying the interviewer. When the competition is tough, that’s all it takes to be dropped to last choice.

When good jobs are scarce, it isn’t enough to have good qualifications. You have to be better than all of the other applicants.


Cami June 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I once interviewed a young woman who bit her nails and poked at her cuticles constantly in an interview. I actually cut the interview short and immediately sent her a “thanks, but no thanks” email before she’d even left the parking lot. I’ve done similarly with candidates with other habits that I know are going to drive me crazy.

Simple truth is that there are enough qualified people out there that I simply see no reason to hire someone who’s going to annoy me all day long.


Sim June 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm

My toes crack when I walk and unfortunately there’s nothing I can do about it. That being said, when my back starts playing up and needs to be cracked to relieve the tension, I try to be discreet about it (make it look like I’m just stretching, wait until everyone else is at lunch) unfortunately though, I have bad joints anyway, and sometimes I need to crack a knee/shoulder/finger to get it going again. Just thinking about it makes me want to crack my toes and my shoulders – but I won’t, because I’m on a crowded train.


NostalgicGal June 23, 2014 at 11:04 pm

I have a musical body too, mostly when I go up and down stairs my ankles click a LOT. My mother’s did also; and my father commented once that once I got to about her height and weight (as I started high school) he couldn’t tell which one of us was on the stairs until he seen who came down or we spoke. A good friend of mine, her jaw pops horribly and loudly when she chews. This is ‘normal activity’ and your body makes noises. That’s understood.

The complaint is an optional non-functional noise producing activity (cracking the knuckles over and over and over continuously). They could choose not to make the noise but are; maddeningly and persistently. That is not the ‘noisy body’ sounds from normal movement. I can understand the latter, the former (optional noise) is the problem.


GC Girl June 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm

As a recruiter, I hate to say it, but recruiting is very subjective. Your qualifications and experiences may get your resume on my desk and pass a phone interview, but if you don’t impress me with your professionalism and fit with the team that I’m recruiting for when I meet you face-to-face, you will be rejected.

These days, there are LOTS of qualified candidates, so qualification alone is not going to be enough. It will be the little things that can make the difference (speaking too fast, not sounding confident, not getting to the point) from being hired to being rejected. While going through a period of unemployment, I was advised to have mock interviews and even video tape the mock interviews to see how I present to prospective employers. It was very helpful to see what I did well and what appeared off-putting about my interviewing technique so I could adjust my behavior accordingly. When you get only one shot at a face-to-face meeting, you have to make it count.

It’s quite unfortunate that this person has lost a potentially great job opportunity due to his habit of knuckle cracking. I hope someone lets him know about the knuckle cracking so he can do something about it next time.


hakayama June 23, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Dear OP:
In the name of the employees of your company, πŸ˜‰ I thank you for sparing them the presence of someone that single-handedly would have created a hostile work environment for just about everyone.
I hope that habitual joint cracking never gets classified as a handicap thus putting the folks with annoying habits in a protected category.
What is surprising is so many commenters, who read the posting made by a highly discomfited person, think that this cracking habit is a minor thing. Perhaps they can shut out their surroundings so completely that disgusting sounds, smells and sights do not affect them. If so, I think we all would be grateful if they shared the secret to their detachment from unattractive realities around them. Or just realities…


Anonymous June 23, 2014 at 10:38 pm

>>Perhaps they can shut out their surroundings so completely that disgusting sounds, smells and sights do not affect them.<<

I regularly teach yoga in a studio that shares a wall with a racquetball court, so many of my classes are punctuated by balls (and sometimes bodies, for some reason) slamming against the common wall. I'm vegan, and I've often had people sit right next to me eating steak, or meatzza pizza, or other gross-to-me foods. Some of them (like my brother) have even made animal noises while eating, specifically to try to bother me. When I was in university, I had a friend who habitually cracked various parts of her body…….and, yeah, all of these things are annoying, but the only way to live a life free of annoyance is to become a hermit, and even then, I imagine that hermits must get annoyed with things like the TV or the Internet breaking down, or the pizza delivery place running out of their favourite topping, or whatever. Anyway, what's the secret to my detachment? I guess just…..perspective. Yes, the gym I work at has a major design flaw, but I love teaching yoga, so I put up with it, and it's become a running joke now. Yes, it grossed me out to hear my brother making the noises of the dead animals they're eating, but he's since grown up a lot, and now we get along. Yes, my old friend's knuckle-cracking habit (and my current friend/gym colleague's mouth-clicking habit) were/are annoying, but like I said, everyone has something about them that annoys someone. I mean, people can get rejected from jobs for any number of stupid reasons–maybe they wore the wrong colour shirt, or maybe they root for the "wrong " hockey team, or maybe the interviewer used to date a friend or family member of theirs, and having them on board would be weird, or maybe they're too tall or short or fat or thin or what have you, and this doesn't have any bearing on the job itself–let's say it's an office job. My point is, by the sound of the OP, if she hadn't been put off by the knuckle cracking, it probably would have been something else.


Anonymous June 24, 2014 at 7:53 am

I meant, “yes, it grossed me out to hear my brother making the sounds of the dead animals he was eating.” I started to type “it grossed me out to hear people making the sounds of the dead animals they were eating,” but I realized that it was only ever my brother who did it, but I forgot to change to the singular. I wrote this comment late last night.


Dominic June 24, 2014 at 6:47 am


“Little things”β€”like constant knuckle cracking, gum chewing, high-pitched squeaking, giggly laughter, long personal phone conversations, throat clearing, humming or talking to oneself … and the list could go on and onβ€”are not minor when you are stuck in a cubicle next to that person day in and day out with no escape and no relief.

Heaven knows, if I had a way to shut that all out, I would, but I do not have that gift. Much of my work is proofreading, requiring serious concentration, and the above distractions have a huge impact on that task. So if someone can share their yogi wisdom, I’d appreciate it.


Anonymous June 24, 2014 at 7:59 am

Dominic, it’s really not that complicated. I mean, I used to have a co-worker who talked and sang to herself also, but she was otherwise a good person, and really smart and funny, and she even made a joke of her mildly schizophrenic tendencies, so I didn’t mind. I actually liked her better not perfect, because that way, it made it more okay for me not to be perfect either, and I don’t work there anymore, but I still remember this woman in a positive way, because she was a positive person, quirks and all. I guess at a certain point, I just realize that there are some things I can’t change, and leaving the situation altogether (like the poorly-designed but otherwise good gym I work at now) would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so I just accept that that’s how it’s going to be. So, that’s how annoyances turn into running jokes, which just become part of the daily rhythm of life. That doesn’t make the annoyances disappear completely (racquetball noise and Savasana are NOT a good mix), but it makes them a bit more manageable.


Anonymous June 24, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Another thing–if the noise from the adjoining cubicles is annoying, why not listen to music on headphones while you work, if the office allows it? Most places I’ve been to don’t mind, as long as you aren’t “client-facing.”


Dominic June 25, 2014 at 7:13 am

Although I do like your concept of trying to make the annoyances more manageable, for the type of work we’re doing, it really is more complicated than that. I have nothing against my co-worker, but she needs to do her job in a way that allows those around her to do their jobs. She has been told as much, and occasionally the problem gradually gets worse and she is told again.

As to listening to something on headphones, this doesn’t work for me when I’m proofreading. Again, it’s a concentration thing, and people all work differently. For some types of work, I can tune out outside noises and distractions, but for others not, and I need a more quiet environment.


Jaxsue June 25, 2014 at 10:53 am

@Dominic, I was an editor in a previous life, and like you I need relative silence. Fortunately, I worked from home, but if I worked in an office environment and had to deal with the noises you heard I’d have a very difficult time!

AnaLuisa June 24, 2014 at 2:04 am

Cat, just out of curiosity – what is the employee SUPPOSED to say when asked about his/her greatest weakness, then?

I have been self-employed for quite a long time so I have probably been out of the habit already – but I see all these “greatest-weakness” questions as very hypocritical – I think I am NOT really supposed to tell you that I am a lazy bum, or that I tend to act like a selfish entitled brat, even if it really WAS the case.

So what? Do I invent something innocuous, or even covertly flattering (such as “I tend to concentrate too much on my work so that I skip lunches”) just to satisfy the interviewer?

Honestly, although I certainly do have a lot of bad habits just like everyone, I have been in the business for years and I cannot think of any “weakness” that would be relevant to my potential employer. Or perhaps I am more in peace with myself and do not see any of my traits as “bad” or a “weakness”?

I am just wondering what would be the right thing to say, then.


GC Girl June 24, 2014 at 1:33 pm

When answering the “what is your greatest weakness question”, choose a skill or ability that is not important to the job, but something real that you are not good at, but could work on. This is not the forum to air your personality flaws. The idea behind this question is to show that you’re self-aware and striving to improve.

Skill – “I’m great with Excel spreadsheets, but I seem to have multiple spreadsheets on the go. I feel if I was stronger in Access, it would help me manage my time more effectively. I’m looking into taking a course in the near future to strengthen my skills in Excel.”

Ability – “It’s been commented to me that when I respond to a request, it sounds like I’m saying “No” to my manager when I’m really saying “Give me a minute to work out how to accomplish your task”. I find I need to work on my tone so I don’t unintentionally give a negative impression.”


Rod June 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Not the right forum for this, but plenty of guidance in Workopolis, Monster, Linkedin, etc.

I had issues finding meaningful work a while ago. I was advised, by the HR people working at my father’s company, to find a non-essential skill and recount how you improved on it.

If you don’t see any weakness you might come off as arrogant. If you mention something crucial (like an actuary making arithmetic errors) you might come off as incompetent. I think for my last successful (and ongoing) interview I mentioned that sometimes my research gets so deep and involved that I reach diminishing returns – yes, the result is more accurate, but not worth the extra time and effort. And that I have worked on it by asking for supervisor guidance on how “good” the numbers need to be (its engineering).

And no, the prospective employer is not asking you to be brutally honest by posing that question, wondering whether you’will cheat on your spouse or steal from the cashier. it is testing whether you have enough presence of mind to prepare for such a question during an interview. As usual, preparation is crucial if the prerequisites are there.


just4kicks June 24, 2014 at 10:00 am

I do crack my knuckles, and its often very loud. I notice that I tend to do it alot when I’m nervous. I’ve done it for so long now, I rarely notice when I do it. My daughter has an ankle that “pops” and that drives me crazy! Pot calling kettle black anyone? πŸ™‚


AMC June 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I don’t know if anyone has brought this up yet, because I haven’t read through all the comments, but there is are disorders/conditions associated with sensory sensitivity, including autism. Misophonia in particular is described as an extreme sensitivity to what others would consider normal ambient noise. I don’t know if the OP has any such disorder, but I’m kind of disturbed that s/he is so bothered by it that they would reject a job applicant over it.


hakayama June 24, 2014 at 9:54 pm

“Normal ambient noise” is one thing. Even “unusual but necessary” noise, such as a fire alarm or a jackhammer, can be tolerable/tolerated/accepted, since we know that it is necessary and at some point it will stop. What is unacceptable to me is unnecessary and/or constant sound that only one person produces/enjoys IMPOSED on others. To their detriment. With the “producer” not giving a rat’s tail about how other people are affected.
So the interviewee’s conduct, as described by the OP, falls into the category of a habit that the individual does not seem to wish to curtail even for “special occasions”.
As I said before, the OP acted in the best interests of her outfit and other people working there already. She did so by not hiring somebody who, despite of his other great attributes, seems to be totally unaware of the potential discomfort he generates.
Maybe folks that must “let it all hang out” 24/7 could set up their own enterprises. πŸ˜‰


Jaxsue June 25, 2014 at 10:55 am

Well said, hakayama.


Shalamar June 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I used to work with someone who sniffled all day instead of blowing his nose. I finally couldn’t stand it any longer and bought a box of Kleenex for him. When I delivered it to his desk, he stared at me and said nastily “Oooh, sorry, am I BOTHERING you?” He seemed surprised and angry when I said “Actually, yes, you are.”


Outdoor Girl June 24, 2014 at 6:32 pm

There is a big difference between a joint cracking on its own and doing it on purpose, however unconsciously. If the interviewee in the OP had his knees, ankles or back crack as he sat down? Wouldn’t give it another thought. I have fairly severe TMJ syndrome. There are a number of people who wouldn’t be able to share a meal with me because my jaw cracks all the time when I’m chewing. But if I spent an entire interview moving my jaw back and forth to make it crack? I’d expect to be eliminated from the candidate pool.


EchoGirl June 24, 2014 at 10:15 pm

My problem with this is there’s this whole hierarchy of what it’s “okay”/”not okay” to be annoyed by — basically based on whether the annoyance is shared by a lot of people or you’re one of the only ones. If it’s a common thing to be annoyed by you get sympathy and agreement, if it’s an uncommon one (like a slightly flickering light, which will give me a full-on migraine if I have to put up with it for too long), people act like you’re being too sensitive or demanding.


Sarah June 25, 2014 at 7:21 am

I feel for this person but honestly- you need to put your best foot forward in job interviews. I have anxiety and other mental illness I am medicated for and manage- sometimes I find myself nail biting in public, or doing something less socially acceptable like skin picking (gross I know but when you get out of balance it’s a compulsion). But in a job interview situation I make sure I’m ready for a high stress situation, work on tools to manage behaviours that are off putting and generally am super aware of how I’m coming across. I don’t want people to excuse my gross habits because they are symptoms of mental illness- I would appreciate someone politely and sensitivity drawing my attention to offensive behaviour so I can change it!


anne August 26, 2015 at 9:21 am

I work next to two gentle lovely kids who crack their knuckles all day — they are programmers and probably doing it to relieve stress and it provides some comfort. However, it makes me sick and I end up listening to loud trance music all day to drown it out because like I said, great kids and I don’t want them to not be as comfortable as possible. When the woman (petite bird bones) does it, it is particularly acute. It is a horrible habit, like loud eating. I venture to say that people who are driven crazy by knuckle cracking may also have trouble with other intimate body sounds. I feel like the problem is with me more than the crackers so I suck it up but, crackers should know that it can greatly affect those around them. I would seriously prefer to hear farting and burping all day, at least that doesn’t sound like bones snapping. I would not hire a cracker unless they were going to sit far away from me and not inflict the sound on anyone else. It’s a horrible sound, akin to nails on chalkboard.


John April 8, 2016 at 1:43 am

A knuckle cracker has started at the cubical next to me. He’s similar to camlan’s fellow student in that he slowly works his way through every finger, pauses for several minutes, then starts again.

It’s a bit like Chinese water torture – waitong for it, waiting for it, waiting for it, POP, POP, POP, POP, POP, other hand POP, POP,POP,POP,POP… And looooong, pause, then waiting for it, waiting for it…POP,POP….

It’s a horrible noise and really disturbs me however I’m at a loss as to what to do as it appears a deeply ingrained habit. i haven’t spoken to him yet.

No way would I hire a knuckle cracker. Or a chronic sniffer, or anyone else who can’t keep bodily noise under control.


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