Selection Questionnaire, PQQs and GIQs – Explained by Experts

8th January 2019

Selection Questionnaire, PQQs and GIQs – what is the difference and what do they mean? 

Last updated: Jun 7, 2022 @ 12:20 pm

The procurement sector is often an obscure place to navigate, with conflicting processes that can vary from tender to tender.

They are much more common in public sector procurement, but they can be used to check supplier suitability within private sector tendering too.

The pre-qualification (or selection) stage serves to determine who meets the suitability criteria and can be considered for the tender stage.

This will always, regardless of the type of questionnaire, include basic information about your company and, if applicable, parent companies and/or subcontractors you would be planning to use.

If you pass the pre-qualification/selection stage, then you will be ‘Invited to Tender’ (ITT).

There are three types of ‘pre-qualification’ or ‘selection’ that you can confidently expect to encounter during the bid process.

SQ (Selection Questionnaire)

As mentioned above, this was introduced by the CCS (Crown Commercial Service) in 2016 with the intention of completely replacing the PQQ.

There are only a few differences between the updated SQ and the older PQQ, namely that the exclusion grounds in the modernised selection questionnaire correlate to those in the latest version of Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and in the ESPD.

This also correlates with exclusion concerning the Modern Slavery Act 2015, where appropriate.

The SQ covers the same areas as the PQQ, but whereas in a PQQ you would have been required to submit evidence (in the form of certificates or similar) for aspects such as insurance, in an SQ you will be given the chance to ‘self-certify’ that you meet the requirements.

You will be asked to provide the evidence at either the ITT stage or in lieu of the contract award.

Commonly in SQs, there will be a small number of quality questions at the end of the questionnaire.

It is uncommon for SQs to have a substantial quality response element, but it is dependent on the individual contracting authority and the size of the tender.

Large tenders with multiple Lots may have a large SQ with multiple quality questions before the ITT.

PQQ (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire)

This is the old form of the questionnaire. In 2016 an updated version of the questionnaire was created (the Selection Questionnaire/SQ) in order to accommodate the requirements of the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD), which is detailed below.

Theoretically, when the selection questionnaire was introduced it was meant to completely replace the old PQQ.

However, you can still find plenty of tenders that are using the old PQQ, so it is worth ensuring you understand the requirements.

The PQQ covers the following aspects:

  • Status – the full details on your organisation, including everything from your companies registration and VAT number to any lists of sub-contractors and supply agreements in the business. This is where the PQQ explores your structure and competency.
  • Finances – you will be asked to provide evidence of your cash flow and consequently, accounts (audited, abridged or other) are often used as proof. You may also need to provide your insurance certificates.
  • Quality – you must be able to demonstrate that you have adequate quality management systems in place that will ensure you fulfil the contract. The best response is to show you have a quality management system in place, such as ISO 9001.
  • Environmental policy – many tenderers have a commitment to reducing their environmental impact and will be looking to work with suppliers that are able to share this responsibility. Again, having an environmental management policy in place such as ISO 14001 will strengthen your response considerably.
  • Social policy – public sector organisations especially will want to work with companies that have a comprehensive social policy in place. This includes your corporate social responsibilities (CSR).
  • Health and safety – for certain contracts risk assessments and the correct health and safety protocols are essential. Any company with more than five employees should have such a policy in place. Any industry specific certification or accreditation should be mentioned/provided here to strengthen your response.
  • Case studies and testimonials – as a standard on the old PQQs you will be asked to provide 3 previous contract examples/case studies which must be from within the last 3 years to be valid. Very occasionally it will state that you can use contract examples from within the last 5 years, but if it is not stated, then assume 3.

For more information regarding PQQs, please see Tender VLE.

GIQ (General Information Questionnaire)

There is no official legislation detailing what a GIQ is and how it differs, but you may on occasion see this term used.

It is simply another version of a selection questionnaire or PQQ and will be asking for the same basic company information, self-certification and possibly some quality questions.

Irrespective of what the questionnaire is called, it is important to remember that this is not simply a ‘copy and paste’ or ‘tick the box’ exercise.

A lot of the information you will be inputting is basic, and of course, there is an element of the YES/NO box selection, but do not fall into the trap of assuming all questionnaires are the same.

Variations may be slight, but if you do not read each of the questions carefully you could find yourself failing the qualification stage over something small and entirely avoidable.

Read through any evaluation criteria carefully before writing responses to quality questions as there can often be information regarding what will constitute a high-scoring answer.


So whether you are faced with a PQQ, SQ, GIQ or some other obscure acronym, remember that you will always need to provide extensive information about your company structure, financial standing, compliance with health and safety, environmental and social policies and evidence of your previous experience in the form of contract examples.

If you take the time to read carefully through the questionnaire before attempting to complete it, you will find they are more intuitive than the conflicting terminology would indicate.

For more information around bid management and the tendering process in general contact our Tender Consultants team. Our Bid Writers can help you when tendering for contracts and advise you on writing winning bids.

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