If this person has not been training, then as a newb they can probably eat at slightly above maintenance, but cleanly (i.e. no empyt calories from soft drinks, refined carbs, etc.) with a lot of protein and their body will show improvements in composition during the first 2 months.
Then, if they are up a bit in weight and around 17%, I would suggest they get lean while lifting and end up around 10-12% BF, then maintain for a bit while focusing on strenght, then focus on "bulking".
We need more info, and I'm sure many will jump on me for my post, but I think that you can do both for a bit, but that when you have little muscle and are around 15-20% BF it's better in the long run to get lean and build back up than bulking at that point.