In academic hiring in the US there are several different dimensions that matter including: tenure status, salary, and rank. There are also many different kinds of institutions, so what I am going to say means that it won't apply everywhere.
Normally, where I teach, a position that is advertised specifically for an Associate or Full Professor would be for someone who would be expected to take a leadership role in the department, either as chair, heading a center or institute, or creating a new program. Most of the time such a person is already at that rank and they would already have tenure and that tenure would transfer (there are different mechanisms for this).
As other people have mentioned, in some departments, such as computer science or business sometimes someone with a lot of industry experience usually also including a publication record will also be hired at those ranks because the assistant professor salaries are not competitive and don't reflect their seniority. However those people would be hired without an award of tenure.
Overall, the advice to read the advertisement carefully is really good.