What is the judging process when entering business awards?

So, you’ve entered your first business award – a huge congratulations for putting yourself out there and taking the next step in your business, but what happens next?  Entering business awards can be confusing at times, especially regarding the judging process.  In this article, we uncover the judging process itself and make it easier for you to understand.


How does the judging process work?

The judging process itself can vary quite a lot from one award to another so it’s important to be aware of that when preparing an entry.

To be a judge of a business award is a big responsibility, and a huge honour to be given the position.  A lot of reading and checking is required throughout the process to make sure each individual entry is fully understood and digested.

In the past, judges were often guilty of awarding a company they already knew of, or liked, not necessarily basing it on the merit of the actual application.  However, in more recent years, this has begun to change.  There is much more transparency around the awards and has very much become about the application entry.  The process itself now has a much more organised system and certain things to be followed.


The Standard Judging Process

The standard judging process is when the application is sent off and then passed onto a panel of judges, which usually includes people from the local business community, sponsors of the award, the mayor, or even high-level business entrepreneurs.  These judges are mostly independent and should not have any involvement with any of the businesses entering, or any of the other activity associated with the decision-making process.  These judges are chosen because they are respected within their field and within the business community.

  • Vetting – Within the standard judging process, the judges will come together, usually in person after they have carefully read through each application. Prior to them reading, the entries are vetted by the award organisers to ensure everything is correct and aligns with the entry details.
  • Scoring System – With most awards there is usually some form of scoring system that the judges will follow when going through each entry. This makes it easier for the judges and ensures a fair system for the applicants.  The scoring system is often out of 5 or 10 for each particular question within the entry.  The scores are then added up and the winner decided based on which applicant has the highest number.  If it ends up being a tie, which can occasionally happen, the judges will then come together to discuss and drill down each entry.
  • Judges Interview – On occasion, an entry may end up going to a judge’s visit, or a judge’s interview in person. What happens at this stage is the judge will have already read through the paper entry prior, and the next step is almost like Dragon’s Den, where the judges will go into further detail on certain key elements and information that you have included in your entry (it shouldn’t be anything you don’t already know!).  Usually, the applicant will be invited to do around a 10-minute presentation and sometimes a short Q&A afterwards.  This isn’t a difficult part of the process, and as mentioned, it should be regarding things already written within your entry.   This stage is about selling your business and you; it’s about showcasing your passion in person, and you do need to be present for the allocated days and times – so be aware of this when sending off your application.
  • The Decision – The judge’s decision is final and often there is no feedback given. There are very few awards that give out any form of feedback after the winner has been revealed, which can be frustrating.  Often, you can request feedback, however, it is important not to expect to be given any as this isn’t always the case.  If you don’t win, it is disappointing, but managing that loss correctly by focusing on the positives and trying harder next time is key.

Final Thoughts

It is challenging to win a business award and that is where expectations need to be managed.  Whilst we guarantee to get you into the finals, sometimes achieving the win can be based on such small deciding factors.  However, it’s important to remember that it is a numbers game, and to keep trying.  The more awards you do enter, the more refined your message will become and the more understanding you have as a client as to what the judges are looking for.

With the judging process being much more transparent now, businesses should be confident that the nominations are being judged properly, respectfully and with honesty and integrity.

We’re here to help with any stage of your awards journey, and that includes the judging process.  If you are requested to present at a judge’s interview and need assistance with presentation training/skills or need help with structure and formatting, then we can guide you.

Get in touch today!


Pure Awards is an expert business award writing, grant writing and content creation agency with over 10 years’ experience.  For more details about our services and who we are, visit our website.