How I Landed My New Job Within 18 Days

Samantha Xu

When a consultant from an Executive Search firm called to sound out my interest for a position they were working on, I didn't know it would turn out to be my next career move. I wasn't actively looking, as I was well protected by the company-sponsored INSEAD programme and generous employment terms. I did know that my learning curve was flattening out, which is not something I particularly enjoy.

The proposed position was very interesting - a listed company, market leader, with strategic and commercial responsibility and wide geographical coverage.

The position checked all the right boxes. But was I ready for this?

I scheduled a session with our career development coach Kai Sieng to discuss my career planning. He gave me a lot of valuable inputs but I was somewhat sceptical - though I have been working for 16 years with recent years in senior leadership positions, I haven't had many job hunting/interview experiences. Nevertheless, I decided to be open-minded.

As suggested, the first thing I did was to score my CV using Vmock as a diagnostic process. Once I gathered the feedback from Vmock, I rewrote my CV based on the Job Description, highlighting my capabilities based on the role requirement. The CV was well received. The firm scheduled two interviews with the regional head of HR and the president on the following Monday… leaving me with little time to prepare.

I had only attended two interviews in the last seven years, and in total no more than four in my entire career, so I felt my ability to sell myself was limited, though I have conducted plenty of interviews as a hiring manager. I prepared for the interview using an interview note to structure my thoughts. But then, I knew I needed more practice for my upcoming interviews.

For help, I turned again to my INSEAD career coach, and asked him to do a mock interview with me. I don’t know how much time he used to prepare for the mock interview, but we spent 1.5 hours and went through 21 questions that he had prepared, identifying gaps and looking for improvements on all fronts. The session pushed me to think on the spot how to address curve balls, and mentally prepared me for an energised interview in the afternoon. I was ready. 

When the afternoon ended, I knew I had nailed it.

The process started to take off - within the next two weeks; I met with the global functional head, global HR head, Group CFO and Group chairman, all in between my travel and INSEAD module. Every step was a reconfirmation that I could be the right candidate. While having online interviews, I was privileged to be able to use the INSEAD interview room which provided great privacy and sound system. INSEAD's career and IT team gave me super support whenever I asked, which eased my stress tremendously. Upon knowing that I was interviewing for a job, the INSEAD Assistant Marketing Director and my awesome friends from the cohort all sent supportive words while being careful not to put  any extra pressure on me.

Within 18 days from the initial contact by the head hunter to the contract signed, I landed my next career role. It sounds magical, but I know it would not have happened without all the support from INSEAD, and specifically the assistance of my INSEAD career coach. This experience definitely forms a warm and memorable chapter of my INSEAD journey.

After the July electives, I will be ready to start the new chapter with my new company in August. Thank you all, who have been an active part of my journey!