Age discrimination is neither legal or fair!
If you are an executive in your mid-50s or early 60s who made it through the first screenings because you did not put your first couple of jobs on your resume or excluded the year you graduated, you could walk into that interview and be talking to an HR person who is the age of your child or the age of the child of your child whose only responsibility is to say “No!” as often and quickly as possible to candidates who do not fit the pattern.
Want it or not, you have to go through that process and your goal is now, to satisfy this low-level interviewer that your qualifications fit the profile and that there are no other issues such as age, health problems or unusually high salary requirement that would disqualify you.
The key to being successful is not hiding your age or salary, but being prepared to overcome all possible disclosed or undisclosed objections.
Think like a salesperson.
A salesperson practices to deal with any objections you might bring up because salespersons know what the potential objections will be. Because you think and act like a salesperson, you can avoid a lot of objections before they are even brought up and settle a lot of questions before they are even asked.
Usually the first few minutes of the interview will go like this: “Did you have trouble finding the place”, “How was your weekend?” Instead of the usual answer, go out of your way to say, “I went hiking with some friends of mine over the weekend, and I feel great!” Right at the outset you paint yourself as someone who is energetic and ready to go without even knowing if age would be an issue.
Questions about compensation and authority are stickier but can be dealt with a lot more directly with the hiring manager then the low-level interviewer.
Make the entry point as comfortable as possible for them.
If you are talking to the hiring manager, you can cut to the chase and say, “I can do everything you need done and more, and you are going to be thrilled. You will not find anybody who can do this job better than I can do it, so let’s talk about how you can bring me on board in a way that is comfortable for you.”
You can suggest that the hiring manager bring you in near the top of the scale that would have been appropriate for the more-junior person that was originally expected in the role, with the understanding that your compensation will be reviewed in six months based on the amount of value you bring to the job.
You can also propose to start on a consulting basis to get your foot in the door and say you are comfortable with that arrangement because you know the kind of value you can bring to the organization.
The key to making the compensation talk work resides in demonstrating elegantly that you can do all kinds of things a younger person can do plus all these things a less experienced person might not know to do at all thus showing that your experience makes you uniquely valuable compared to other candidates for the job.