How we judge the awards and the stages involved

Subscribe to our newsletter

Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media for information and updates throughout the year.

Who are the Judges?

Judges are invited by the awards management committee. They are recognised and highly regarded members of the Sunshine Coast business community. Some are former award winners or Hall of Fame members. Each year there are between 30-35 volunteer judges. All judges are required to sign non-disclosure agreements and maintain high levels of confidentiality. Judges are also asked to abstain from assessing any applications where there are perceived conflicts of interest.

No members of the awards committee or board serve as judges. Nor do they participate in the judging process. With the exception of the Judging Chair, who oversees the judging process, liaises with the judges, and manages data collection and processing from the Award Force platform.

How are applications assessed?

Applications are assessed in 2 stages. Stage 1 is the written application. Stage 2 is the Finalist interview.

In stage 1, each application is assessed by at least 3 judges who are randomly selected by the Award Force software algorithm. Judges individually score their allocated applications, and those scores are then audited and averaged for a final score. Judges do not know who else may be assessing any given application.

In stage 2, Finalists attend an interview with a panel of 3 randomly selected judges. After the interviews, judges upload their individual scores to the Award Force platform where those scores are again audited and averaged. 

To ensure all entries are assessed equitably in both written and interview stages, judges receive training and a Judges’ Handbook. They make their assessments based on standardised numeric scoring scales that relate to specific criteria for each question in the written application and interview.

Do Judges confer and compare scores?


In stage 1, the Award Force software randomly allocates each written application to 3 different judges for scoring. Judges do not know which other judges are assessing the same application and have no way to confer or discuss their scores.  

In stage 2, panels of 3 judges are randomly allocated to Finalist interview times. Judges may discuss Finalist responses in general terms but do not share their scores, which are individually uploaded to Award Force after interviews conclude.

What if there is a conflict of interest?

If a judge has a conflict of interest in the written application stage, they simply recuse themselves from judging that application and another judge is randomly assigned to ensure that all applications are assessed by at least 3 judges.

In stage 2, a judge may excuse themselves from any interview where they or the Finalist feel there is a conflict of interest. Or that finalist may be allocated by the Awards Coordinator to a different judging panel.

How are Finalists selected?

There is no set number of finalists per category. All applications that are on or above the benchmark for written entry scores across all categories move through to the finalist stage. The benchmark is usually set at the top 120 entries. Historically, Finalists have tended to be those written entries that score an average of 7 or more out of 10 for all of the 10 questions.

How are winners selected?

Category winners are simply the business with the highest combined numeric score (written application + interview) in their category. 

The Business of the Year winner is simply the business with the highest combined numeric score of any business across all categories.

Judges will be looking for applications that:
  • Answer all questions and respond effectively to each question’s criteria
  • Demonstrate well thought out business planning with clear goals and objectives
  • Show a clear marketing strategy tailored to that business’s goals
  • Understand and effectively engage their customer base
  • Show evidence of a sustainable business model – financially, socially and environmentally
  • Demonstrate innovation in their product, processes and/or technologies
  • Know how to grow a positive workplace culture
  • Demonstrate excellence in their contributions to the Sunshine Coast business economy and community

The Judges

One of the things I love the most about our awards is hearing the feedback from our judges. It reaffirms to me that we are fortunate to live in a region that fosters and encourages the entrepreneurial talent we have right here on our doorstep.
And you cannot help but be inspired about our future.