Anyone who conducted interviews for potential employees knows that after a while you develop your own priorities of what to ask, what to pay attention to and what to look for in the candidate. If I had to pick that ONE thing in the candidate that will put him at the top of the list, outshining everyone else, I would say I’ll choose a person with potential and ability to learn. This trait puts in shadow even those that demonstrate all required job specific knowledge on the spot.
First of all, there is no such thing as knowing it all, even if it looks like it. Tomorrow you might find a completely new knowledge needs to be applied (nowadays the chances for that are 100%) and the skill to learn “on the spot” becomes more valuable than any previously demonstrated knack. Having this skill in your backpack indicates many other important skills, such as curiosity, flexibility (a sign of being a good team player) and motivation.
So, if I need to choose between “know-it-all smarty pants” candidate and one that convinced me that he has what it takes to learn whatever is needed for the job to be done, without any doubt the latter gets the spot.
How to discover this potential in the candidate is prompting a separate post, but in the meanwhile: if you had to pick this ONE thing you are looking for in your future employee would it be any other trait?