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How best to manage when recruiters ask for salary range in screener calls / early rounds. I understand mutually not wanting to waste time, but also don't want to get stuck lower. Is it always best to avoid the discussion until you have an offer?

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Refuse. When they press you, ask the recruiter for the position's pay bands. Give them a vague response that says you find them low but acceptable. Resist letting them know your number until they've already decided the want to hire you since your negotiating position will be stronger.

Source: I work in competitive, corporate negotions

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I usually tell them I won't discuss compensation unless I'm being extended a firm offer.

That said, I really can't give you exact language to use since the value of a negotiating tactic is directly rated to how unprepared the opponent is to counter it. If I give this bowl a quip to use, it will be worthless quickly.

I give some bs about how "Comp will depend based on role/responsibility which I still need to learn more about. Could you share what the range is for the role?"

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Look at the comparable for the company of interest via Glassdoor and add on 10%. That’s your floor.

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Thanks for asking, my expectation is that you will provide me with a range being offered before we move to the next step.

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