Priority candidates

A priority candidate is a University employee who applies for a vacancy at the University at the same or lower grade than their existing post and who is either:

  • an employee with 2 or more years’ continuous service with the University (ie a contract of employment with the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University) who has either been told that they are at risk of redundancy, or is within 3 months of the end of a fixed-term contract and has confirmed that they wish to seek redeployment, or
  • an employee with less than 2 years continuous service who is at risk of redundancy, or is within 3 months of the end of a fixed-term contract, and seeking redeployment and who is pregnant, is on, or has returned from a period of maternity leave, adoption leave, or at least 1 x 6 week continuous block of shared parental leave where the child was born or placed within the past 18 months, or
  • a disabled member of staff for whom redeployment to a more suitable post is being sought.

There is no guarantee that any suitable vacancies will arise. The employee should not automatically rule out vacancies at a lower grade and/or involving a reduction in salary.


If the employee will require a Certificate of Sponsorship in order to take up a new appointment with the University then it may be that the application process for the Certificate of Sponsorship will require that the individual has been appointed in open competition. In case of doubt, advice should be sought from the Staff Immigration Team.



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  • Once an individual has expressed the wish to be considered as a priority candidate for suitable redeployment opportunities, the department should request an up-to-date copy of the individual’s CV so that they can be considered for any vacancies arising within the department.
  • Whenever a vacancy arises within the currently employing department, before the post is advertised, the HR contact should consider the CVs of any current priority candidates within the department to see whether the post might represent a suitable redeployment opportunity. The HR contact should consult with the line manager for the vacancy as appropriate to assess the skills and experience of the individual against the requirements of the post.
  • In the event that the post looks as though it may be a suitable match the employee should be invited to discuss the post. If more than one priority candidate within the department may meet the selection criteria then they must both/all be invited to discuss the post. In the event that more than one priority candidate is interested in being considered then an internal competitive selection process may be required, for example, interviewing the candidates and assessing them against the selection criteria.
  • If, after discussion, it is agreed that a priority candidate is a suitable match for the post then they should be offered the post without the need to advertise
  • In order to allow the individual to apply as a priority candidate for posts in other University departments, the department should ensure that the employee has a priority candidate cover letter [Pro-forma P1] and understands the instructions below.

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  • Provide an up-to-date CV to the HR contact, in order to be considered for vacancies arising within the currently employing department
  • Whenever a University of Oxford[1] vacancy that the individual considers to be a suitable redeployment opportunity (ie where they meet all the essential criteria) is identified the employee should:
  1. make an application as stipulated in the advertisement for the vacancy
  2. attach their priority candidate confirmation letter to the application (by uploading it to the e-recruitment system)
  3. ensure that their covering letter, or supporting statement, explains (i) that they wish to be considered as a priority candidate and (ii) how they are able to demonstrate that they meet each of the selection criteria for the post

[1] i.e. a post where the contract of employment would be offered by the 'Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of University'. This does NOT include vacancies within:

  • Colleges and other affiliated organisations
  • The Oxford University NHS Trust, except where the employer is the University of Oxford and the contract would be 'Chancellor, Masters and Scholars'
  • Wholly owned subsidiary companies, such as Oxford University Innovation Ltd.

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Before placing a job advertisement recruiting departments should consider whether the post could be offered as an ‘internal only’ vacancy. This is most likely to be appropriate where it is likely that there are a number of people currently employed by the University who would have the appropriate skills and experience to do the job, for example in roles such as administration, finance, personnel, etc.

Whether the post is advertised as ‘internal only’ or advertised more widely, recruiting departments should:

  • at the outset of any shortlisting exercise, identify any priority candidates who have applied
  • highlight priority candidates to shortlisting panels and ensure they are aware that priority candidates should be given preferential consideration for the post
  • ensure that where a priority candidate appears to meet the selection criteria for the post they are shortlisted for interview, wherever possible
  • review and discuss priority candidates before other applications are considered. If the department considers that the priority candidate may be a good fit for the post, and wishes to interview them before considering other applicants, they may do so, (as long as this does not cause an unacceptable delay for other candidates)
  • if the priority candidate is to be shortlisted together with other candidates, they should be offered the opportunity to be interviewed before the other candidates (for example as the first candidate of the day) if they wish

If the priority candidate is not selected the letter of rejection [pro-forma letter P2] should outline the reasons for the rejection, by reference to the advertised selection criteria.  This letter should be copied to the currently employing department unless the candidate has asked you not to do so.

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It is for the selection panel to judge whether a particular priority candidate meets all the essential selection criteria, bearing in mind the applicant’s skills, abilities and experience as evidenced by the application, inter-departmental references and the interview and associated tests.

If the priority candidate is not selected the letter of rejection [pro-forma letter P2] should outline the reasons for the rejection, by reference to the advertised selection criteria. This letter should be copied to the currently employing department.

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Wherever a priority candidate is selected for a post the post should be offered on whatever type of contract was advertised (for example, fixed-term, permanent or open-ended externally funded) but the individual may request to accept the post on a trial basis for a period of up to 1 month.  

The purpose of the trial period is for the individual to assess whether the post represents a suitable redeployment opportunity without losing their entitlement to a redundancy payment in the event that the post is not suitable. 

By starting the trial period, their previous employment is ended, and all appropriate end of employment actions (returning of keys, equipment, completion of leavers paperwork, etc) should be completed.  

When appointing the individual into their new appointment in PeopleXD under this arrangement, ensure to pick the appointment reason ‘TRIAL PERIOD’ in both the appointment and salary.  

If, within the agreed trial period, the employee decides that the new post is not suitable for them, they may ask to end the trial period and at this point their employment with the University will end and the redundancy payment they were due from their previously employing department should be made. (The previously employing department is responsible for making this payment.)  The reason for leaving in People XD should be recorded as ‘Redundancy’.

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PeopleXD guidance

For guidance on managing the PeopleXD systems changes please visit: