Experience. Nothing trumps experience. The more times you are “at-bat”, the more lessons you learn. Particularly experience at progressively higher of levels responsibility is desirable. Challenging yourself is ultimately the only way to grow and learn.
Technology aptitude. I don’t necessarily mean reciting minute technical details from memory. I mean understanding the underlying principles of technology. Abstraction, service oriented architecture, componentization, dependency injection, user experience design. Deep understand of these topics are what separates the great consultants from the rest.
Consulting IQ. Soft skills are where we make our money. Reading a room, understanding the motivations involved, working toward a common goal while avoiding or minimizing conflicts. These are things that a consultant does every day. It is hard to judge this quality
Confidence. Nothing sells a candidate like the combination of confidence and skills. When someone is comfortable in their own skin, everyone around them can also be at easy with any situation. Usually confidence comes from a solid history of delivery experience and the understanding that the candidate can overcome any impediments to success.
Inquisitive nature. Every single person on this planet should be constantly asking questions and learning. If the candidate is not asking questions (and hopefully intelligent questions), how can I hope to send that person into an unknown client situation and expect good results?
Personality and likability. Ultimately our clients are people and people form relationships with others and those relationships affect important decisions. Likability goes a long way toward forging relationships. Simple things, like mentioning a hobby or sharing a laugh about some common interest can add up to extremely valuable relationships over time. Some of this comes from simply liking what you do for a living, but I think mostly it comes from a positive outlook.
Honesty. Look, I know that things go sideways on projects. In fact, I would venture to say that every single project has a “sideways” phase at some point in the process. An honest candidate will talk intelligently about these situations and recognize that we do a difficult job and sometimes things don’t work out as expected.
Candidate is too nervous to talk. It’s sad to say but if a candidate is too nervous to speak in an interview, there is no way that he will be able to meet with a client in unfamiliar environment. I usually go out of my way to have some small talk at the start of the interview, just to set the tone and send a message that I am approachable and we are going to have a pleasant conversation.
I don’t hear excitement. It’s a job interview. Tell me why you are excited about this job. What you want to accomplish in your career and how you feel about seizing this opportunity. At a bare minimum, win me over with enthusiasm. Sometimes I will take someone who is excited and will work really hard over someone who has more skill.