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How To Survive a Telephone Screening: The Salary Question

There are a number of ways HR screens applicants before deciding who to invite in for a face-to-face interview (your goal, by the way, is to make it to the face-to-face), but one of the most common is the phone interview.

Now, being an expert phone conversationalist isn’t everyone’s forte. I’m sure we’ve all felt like Mikey in the movie Swingers a time or two, handling a phone call poorly and DEEPLY regretting it later. I’m here to make sure a phone interview isn’t one of those calls for you!

Now, there are too many tips and insights about surviving a phone interview for one blog post, so I’ll focus today’s on an almost universal telephone scenario: the HR representative asking you about your salary requirements. I’ll try to get to others in future posts.

As in a face-to-face interview, your strategy when asked about salary is to convince the interviewer that salary will not be an issue. If they ask you, possible responses include:

  • “I’m sure you pay fair salaries, don’t you?” (they say, “Of course”). “Then, I’m sure it won’t be an issue if you decide I’m the best candidate.”
  • “I’d like to fit into your salary structure. I’m sure you’ve got a range in mind.”
  • “That depends on the responsibilities. Can we talk about the job?”
  • If the interviewer is persistent, you might say, “I’m very uncomfortable talking about money at this point, since I don’t want to get screened out because I was making too much or too little. Can we talk about the position?” If the interviewer still persists, you might say, “Could you give me the range you have in mind? I’ll tell you if you’re in the right ballpark.”

Let me know if you have any phone interview stories and learnings to share!

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Karen says:

    Well written tips. Wish we would have had these a month ago when my husband was interviewing.. Sharing them across my networks.

  • John says:

    This becomes a real problem with the after 50 job hunter. They worked for many years with their last employer and 20-30% or more of their salary was COL increases. The other side of the coin they think they are worth what they earned in their last job but in reality a similiar job would pay 20% less or even more. They just have to work harder in bringing value and benefits to the prospective new job and then they may have a good shot of getting a job offer

  • David says:

    Thanks John for your take on this.
    I also think that too many job seekers over 50 are running after openings rather than targeting companies and contacts which at the time doesn’t have an opening. So many managers have workers that are not top performers but they don’t move them on because they haven’t met the job seeker over 50 that’s focused and excited about where they can add value in your organization. Running after openings can be exhausting. We don’t ignore openings however the hidden job market others over look is not found here.