Tutorials are a great place to start but honestly, they only go so far. I have never seen a tutorial that says "Now I put that there because if I smooth this model without that segment of geometry in this precise location there wont be the visual look of an indent for a door panel of this car". If they did this for the entire tutorial it would be like 14+ hours long.
Not to get technical, but the ones I recommended do go pretty in-depth with explanation. People have a tendency to explain in video tutorials, in general, but these are purposefully created that way.
That said, I do agree with you... to an extent. Personally, tutorials are generally where I learn to experiment. I very rarely follow a tutorial step by step to get the exact same result as the person who wrote it. Maybe I just don't have the patience, but I find it far more effective to strip the tools and basic teachings from the tutorial, apply those, and then absorb more tools from other tutorials. A lot comes from trial and error, yes, and no one can teach that, but it doesn't mean you have to go in alone and unarmed, does it?
Regarding your opinion about portfolio versus attitude. We'd all like the total package... someone who has a great portfolio, is passionate about their work, and isn't a jackass, and in a competitive industry it's these people who get hired, but if you were in the position to hire someone, would you choose someone who had a great attitude and a mediocre portfolio, or keep waiting until you inevitably got something stronger out of the oodles of applications?
That said, I do believe attitude and especially the ability to be a team-player are extremely important qualities to have.