Last edited 14 May 2019


A shortlist is a list of candidates – things, people, or companies, etc – which have been reduced from a larger list with the intention of narrowing down the list further to leave just one candidate for the award of a prize, accolade, commission, selection and so on. The shortlist is usually an intermediate stage between the long list and the final choice.

People draw-up shortlists for all sorts of reasons: an individual may create a shortlist of cars before deciding which one to opt for; an employer may draw-up a shortlist of potential candidates to interview for an advertised job, while a judging panel may compile a shortlist of designs submitted to an architectural competition. In all these cases, the shortlist facilitates making a final choice and is sometimes inevitable if there are a large number of candidates to choose from initially.

Most design competitions are held in two stages: the total number of entrants is first reduced to create a shortlist (typically five or six) and the winner subsequently selected from that shortlist. A client may select the winner on the basis of track record compared to the other entrants; or may select on the basis of the design response, and so will be looking for an entry that embodies creativity, excitement and innovation.

The use of shortlists is also common in the selction of other suppliers in the construction industry. A pre-qualification process may be used to reduce a long-list of potential suppliers to a shortlist that will be invited to tender. This not only reduces the number of candidates that the employer has to consider, but also prevents innapropriate suppliers from wasting time and money preparing a detailed tender that is unlikely to be successful.

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